Hill and Dale

Late last winter, a neighbor we had never met–he lives down the road and around the corner–saw me snowblowing our driveway. He took pity on me and voluntarily started clearing our driveway with his tractor which had a snowblower on it. It took us a couple of hours to clear the driveway, but he just drove up and down a couple of times and voila! He was done! He snowblowed maybe four or five times and refused to accept any payment. It was such a blessing!

Sunday the neighbor–his name is Dale–came up in the driveway in a tractor he had recently bought. Apparently, a lever was too short for his comfort so he asked EJ if he could make the lever longer. EJ, who is a machinist, was able to do just that.

When we first moved here, the driveway was a mess. Erosion had caused deep gullies along both sides of the driveway–and even one across the driveway. This is a video I took of our driveway a couple of months after we moved here. It was after a storm, which didn’t help matters much!

After we moved here, we put in drainage tile and then we shoveled by hand more than 90 tons of gravel and dirt into the gullies to fill them in. Then I spent several summers building rock dams at the sides of the driveway to slow the rainwater from carrying away the gravel and dirt. The rock dams stretch from one side to the other across the area that had been eroded into gullies. It’s interesting to see now just how wide the erosion had been. We also planted grass and wildflower seeds and transplanted lilies between the dams to hold the soil. You can see how the plants covered more of the eroded area each year. Our measures have worked! Yay!

 

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While they were working on the tractor lever, Dale told EJ that he had his wife had driven up to the house when it was for sale, before we bought it. His wife took one look at the state of the driveway and emphatically crossed it off her list of possibilities. Although fixing the driveway was expensive and very hard work, I have been thinking that if it wasn’t for its deplorable condition, the house probably would have sold more quickly and we wouldn’t have been able to buy it. This is what I call a “strangely-wrapped gift”–when something that doesn’t appear pleasant at first ends up being a tremendous blessing in hindsight. I totally love our home and property.

Before our neighbor drove off today, we gave him three dozen eggs. I had been wanting to give him eggs as a small thank you for snowblowing the driveway in the winter. Dale on his tractor returned a short time later. He had noticed that our driveway was lumpy and bumpy. We have found it impossible to smooth the driveway very well with just shovels and rakes. Dale had a grader on his tractor, and he drove up and down the driveway multiple times to smooth it out. Now it looks awesome! This is the photo I took this morning of our graded driveway! This year the plants are so thick that you can’t even see the rock dams in the photo.

Our smooth driveway!

We are very thankful for such a nice neighbor.

 

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My Old Familiar Fiend

I think our weather has been perfect so far this summer, with temps in the low 70s and alternating days of sunshine and gentle rain. However, other areas–in Michigan and other states–are getting cool temps and excessive rain, which is adversely affecting the crops. I didn’t realize how bad until I saw photos such as the one at right on Facebook.

EJ expects that because of the situation with the weather and crops, there might be a scarcity of corn-products in the coming months and/or the price may go sky-high. He wants to get in a year’s supply of chicken feed now while the prices are still low so last Friday EJ and I drove to Blain’s Farm and Fleet, the newest farm store in Traverse City, to pick up the 20 bags of chicken feed we had ordered online the night before. Twenty bags (50 pounds each) is all he thought the Suburban could safely hold. He wants to get another 20 bags or so in a few weeks. This was our first visit to Blain’s. We had expected it to be like TSC, but it was much, much bigger and sold a larger variety of products. We didn’t look around–we just got our bags of feed loaded and left–but we will explore it at a later time.

When we got home, EJ drove the Suburban around to the back and unloaded the bags into the coop. I have spent the last few days scooping the feed into empty kitty litter buckets. The buckets stack nicely and take up less room than the bags. We use litter buckets for just about everything. When I ran out of empty ones, I scrounged around in EJ’s garage for buckets holding various tools, nails, bolts, and other stuff. Whenever I found a Tidy Cats bucket with the lid still on, I emptied the contents into a smaller or lidless litter bucket. I did the same for buckets in the pantry that stored our wild bird seed or old bills and things. I was able to find enough buckets to fill about 45 buckets and store all but one bag of poultry feed. It’s actually a lot of work transferring a thousand pounds of feed into buckets.

As we were driving down our driveway on one of our errands last weekend, we spotted a Brown Thrasher, which was cool. Brown Thrashers are large, slender songbirds. Their song is a complex string of many musical phrases, many of which are copied from other birds’ songs.

We’ve also seen the Mama Deer and her tiny baby a couple times. The baby is so tiny and adorable! I also read on Facebook that a bear had been sighted only about a mile from our house!!!! I’d hate to encounter a bear on my walk to the mailbox, but I sort of wouldn’t mind seeing one if I was safely in the house.

One of the nights last weekend was clear, so EJ and I went out to look at the stars. Specifically, we looked through the binoculars at Jupiter because we heard that it would be possible to see its moons. You know what? It WAS. We DID see the moons of Jupiter. That was cool.

This morning I’ve been doing laundry and taking the washed clothes out to the clothesline to dry. As I was hanging up the clothes, I spied (with my little eye) an odd leaf sticking straight up from the ground. I observed it more closely and saw that it had been deliberately fastened into the side of a critter’s entrance. EJ said the leaf would help divert the rain around the hole. I’m always amazed at the cleverness of creatures.

 

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I recognized the critter who had built the hole, which is approximately the diameter of a finger, and on my second trip to the clothesline, I spied the resident peeking out of its lair:

June 20, 2019 (11)
Spider peeking out

I first encountered this type of spider in 2017 near our garden gate. It was the largest spider I had ever seen, and I was terrified. However, when I saw that the spider was shy and quickly scrambled into its lair when I walked near, I resisted the temptation to kill it and instead observed it. Here is a video that I took of the spider in back then. I was videoing it through our window.


You can read my blog posts about that spider beginning with this post from August 2017: Dr. Frankenstein’s Monster. Now I feel that as long as it doesn’t enter my house or crawl near me, I’m ok with it.

 

 

Broody

Muddy chicken pen

We’ve had quite a few rainy days lately. They aren’t severe thunder-booming gullywasher storms, but just gentle all day rain. Some people are complaining about the rain, but I don’t mind it. It is good for our garden and the other fauna and flora. The rain does make the chicken pen mucky, but I have work boots so I merely slosh through it on my way to and from the coop.

One of my hens has gone broody, which means she wants to hatch her eggs. I’ve never had a broody hen before, so it’s a new experience for me. The chickens’ favorite place to lay eggs is in a kitty litter box. The hen refuses to budge out of it, even when I remove the top and tilt the box to encourage her to leave. She stars at me balefully, fluffs herself up, and pecks at me when I try to move her, so I’ve been wearing thick gloves to protect my hands. I’ve read that a hen usually remains broody for 21 days–the length of time it would take for her eggs to hatch. Sometimes a hen remains broody for longer, and there are ways to get her to stop. I’m reading up on it. I’d let her have babies, but EJ says that the corn crops have failed this year due to too much rain so he expects the price of feed to go sky high. We don’t have a lot of extra money, but we are investing in extra feed now just in case.

I’ve been posting at local FB groups that I have eggs to sell, and we are slowly gaining regular customers. We had a guy stop in today to buy three dozen. He said he would be back. We don’t make a huge amount of money on the eggs–we sell them for $2.50/dozen. However, it’s enough help with the cost of feed and it gets rid of our extra eggs.

Yesterday EJ and I delivered a crochet order to a customer. She had ordered a Jackfield Tile afghan in her favorite purple/pink colors. Christine Bateman, the designer of this pattern, was inspired by the beautiful ceramic tiles made in the Shropshire village of Jackfield, which was at the heart of the industrial revolution in Victorian England. In addition to the afghan, my customer ordered a Chinese Dragon. She wanted the dragon in blue and white, which are the colors of her local public school. The school’s mascot is a dragon. You can buy these items–in YOUR favorite colors–at my Terics Treasures website.This is what they look like:

Hannah Joy enjoying the drive.

We took Hannah Joy with us when we delivered the order. We can fasten a seatbelt to her harness to keep her safe, but she likes to stretch her body from the back seat toward the front so she sits between us. It didn’t appear to be very comfortable for her, especially when we turned corners or rounded curves, so EJ built her a little platform to bridge the gap between seats. She seemed to really enjoy it.

Hannah Joy’s leg is improving. She’s limping less, although sometimes she is more active than she ought to be and she sort of reinjures it. It will take time to heal. I tell her that she’s got to stop doing goofy things, like running pell-mell through the flower garden!

Speaking of our flower garden: My garden is a bit weird. I have pretty flowers in it, but I also have milkweed growing. It probably was planted there when the wind blew the seeds there last autumn. I never get rid of the milkweed–in fact, we actively encourage their spreading–because they are the only plant that a Monarch Butterfly lays it’s eggs on. So, I guess you could say that my flower garden is a butterfly garden. 🙂

Mama at left, baby toward the right.

A couple of days ago we saw a Mama deer walking along the edge of the forest with her very tiny fawn. I wasn’t able to get a very good photo of it. By the time I found my camera and focused it, the opportunity was mostly gone. Also, my windows are a little dirty. But, regardless, I love getting a glimpse of the baby! It’s adorable!

We haven’t seen Miss Madeline Meadows for more than two weeks so I’m quite sure she is KIA. The wildlife seems to be aware that she is gone too. For the last few days, I’ve been watching a chipmunk boldly scurrying around on the deck picking up seeds that have fallen from the bird feeders. I’m quite sure it’s been singing, “Ding Dong, the witch is dead…”

June Flurries

I think summer has finally arrived: the last couple of days the temps have reached close to 80 (F) degrees. It’s hard to believe that just a few days ago we had frost/freeze warnings. To be honest, I actually prefer the temperatures remaining in the 60s or low- to mid-70s. When they climb beyond 80, I think it’s too hot. My friend in Texas told me their temperature was 106 the other day. Ugh. How do people endure it???

As I always do, a few weeks ago I put all my house plants out on the deck for the summer when I thought the warmer temperatures were here to stay. I totally forgot to bring them back inside the first time we received the frost/freeze warnings. I did remember to bring them back in before the next frost. Some of the pots are very heavy and hard to lug into and out of the house so when the temps warmed again, I took out only the small pots. Most of my plants survived the frost ok, but the spider plant, which I’d had for years and years, usually looks poorly at the end of winter (especially since the cats like to sit on it) but it revives and thrives outside every summer. However, after being left out in the frost, it’s looking mostly dead. I hope I can revive it.

Some of the trees outside–we aren’t sure what kind–are releasing billions of fluffy seed pods. There are so many filling the sky that it looks very much like it’s snowing in June. Neither EJ nor I have ever seen such a sight before. I took this video of it, but it doesn’t fully capture how thickly the seed flurries fell.

Last week–I think it was Tuesday–I tied Hannah Joy outside so she could enjoy herself. Sometimes she keeps asking to go outside so I think she just wants to enjoy the day. We don’t want to risk losing her by letting her out without a leash. Her tie-out is right outside the door so I can see her through the window. Conscious of the fact that her previous owner had kept her outside in all kinds of weather, I bring her inside whenever she wants to rejoin us. I looked up and noticed that Hannah’s tether had gotten wrapped around a birdfeeder pole. I had been trying to reposition the pole so both EJ and I could see it through the window as we sit in our chairs. I have since moved the pole right up to the deck so Hannah can’t get wrapped around it again.

So I went out to untangle Hannah Joy and bring her back into the house. She was excited and twisted away just as we reached the door. She went racing around in circles–we call her crazy running “going Taz” because she reminds us of the Tasmanian Devil in the old Looney Tune cartoons. She raced in circles around and across the deck, and as she ran through the flower garden I heard her yelp. There are rose bushes and rocks in that garden, and she had dug a hole that she could have stepped in. She was limping badly when I finally got her into the house, not putting any weight at all on her leg. I didn’t see any obvious wounds and she didn’t act as if she had broken her leg, but I was still concerned. EJ examined her leg the next morning and said he thought she had probably just strained or sprained it  We decided to just keep an eye on her and see if there was improvement over the next day or two. She is still limping but every day she is putting more weight on her leg so we believe she is going to be fine. she has even brought her ball to us for games of “Fetch,” but we are careful how we throw/roll it back to her so she can rest her leg.

In the box

Hannah created her own twist on the game of Fetch. EJ often tries to vary how he throws the ball to her and Hannah varies how she brings it back. She doesn’t just place it in our hands. In fact, she grips it more tightly if we try to take it from her. She waits until we aren’t paying attention and then she hides it close to us. After she has hidden it, she sits a few feet away and stares at us expectantly. If we don’t notice her, she begins barking/growling at us to get our attention. Sometimes she has hidden it so closely that we can’t find it. When we ask her, “Where is your ball, Hannah?” she stares directly at it. If we still can’t find her ball, she gets it herself with a sigh. She has hidden the ball on either side of our chairs, on our laps or feet (how she gets it there without our knowledge, I’ll never know), under the coffee table between EJ and me, in the table drawer (in which I put the yarn of my current project), on the window sill. She recently put her ball in the box that I’ve been putting the completed squares of the afghan I’m working on in to keep them safe. I had to open the box to find the ball and take the photo.

Hannah sleeps on our bed at night, but the first few nights after injuring her leg she struggled to get into the bed so I lifted her up. Thursday night Hannah looked up at me like, “Well, you going to lift me into the bed or what?” I did, and as we cuddled together, I said to her, “You realize that once your leg has healed, I’m not going to help you into bed, right?”

Miss Madeline Meadows, our sweet half-feral serial cat, has been missing for more than a week so I suspect she has met with foul play. I have mixed emotions. Madeline was an endearing, interesting cat who was an incredible huntress. She kept our little homestead free of rodents that would menace our chickens and their food. However, I was always appalled when she went after other prey. I hate to lose her, but I am relieved that the songbirds, rabbits, and chipmunks will be safe. As I said: mixed emotions. Annie looks lonely without Madeline, but maybe I’m just reading my emotions into the situation. Annie is a terrible hunter. We need a cat with hunting abilities somewhere between Annie and Madeline.

EJ working in the garden

EJ works ten-hour shifts Monday through Thursday so he always has a 3-day weekend. Yesterday EJ worked quite a bit in the garden. Many of the seeds he has planted are growing. Yay! We made a quick trip to the grocery store (we had run out of popcorn!) and discovered they were having a sale on vegetable plants so we bought a few tomato and pepper plants, which EJ planted.

 

 

Natural Treasures

I’m a bit late, a week late, but I hope that everyone (in the USA) had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend and are enjoying the beginning of summer.

Summer is slow to reach us here in the north, but it is seeping in. We are still getting a few frost warnings at night, but the temperatures during the day fluctuate into the 50s, 60s, and 70s. In the last week, the leaves on the trees have been maturing so that the landscape is greener and greener. I actually like the “in-between” seasons of Spring and Autumn when it’s not too hot and not too cold.

Slug

Because of Memorial Day, EJ had a four-day weekend instead of three. (His normal workweek is four ten-hour days…er, nights.) EJ puttered in his garage most of Friday–and during the nights after I went to bed. (To make it easier on his body, EJ tries to keep to his workweek schedule on days’ off, so he stays up until 3:30 am, which is when he’d normally get home from work.) When I walked through his garage on my way out to the chicken coop to gather eggs, EJ showed me a gun he had been working on. “It shoots slugs,” he explained. EJ saw the look on my face and he exclaimed, “No, no! I do NOT shoot garden slugs with this gun!” which is exactly what I had been imagining. He tried again, “The gun shoots slugs instead of bullets.” Then he said, “Get that look off your face! Garden slugs do not get shot out of the gun!” which is the second thing I was imagining. EJ knows too well how my imagination works. We had a good laugh.

Hummingbird sitting on a bracket above the feeders.

Saturday EJ and I had a quiet, restful day. We enjoyed watching the birds outside our windows. EJ had seen a hummingbird or two zooming past our window, so he asked me to hang out the hummingbird feeders. I asked, “What about attracting bears?” I had carefully put away the birdfeeders every Spring so they wouldn’t attract hungry bears. We have heard reports of bears in the area but have never seen any, so EJ said, “Let’s just put them out.” So EJ made nectar (without red dye) while I dug out the hummingbird feeders. Since we had decided to disregard bears and put out the feeders for the hummingbirds and oranges for the Orioles, I decided to put out a scoop of seed for the other birds.

Scarlet Tanager

It will be interesting to see what Spring birds will be attracted to our feeders. Even before I put the seed out, we had brief visits from Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. And I saw a Scarlet Tanager at the edge of the forest. It was exciting because it was the first time I’ve ever seen one! I ran and grabbed my camera, but as I clicked the camera’s button, it moved behind a branch and then it was gone. This is the only photo I was able to get.

Relocated birdhouse.

It’s fun watching the bluebirds in the birdhouse near the apple trees. We see them going in and out of the house all day long. The bluebirds that had been interested in the birdhouse near the house moved on. I think they were spooked by our activity. So just before the holiday weekend, I relocated the two posts near the house to the edge of the forest. The one post had the brackets to hang our feeders, so I removed the brackets and attached them to a new post that I put in the same place as the birdhouse post that I had moved had been. Now the birdhouses and feeders are on separate posts. The birds seem to enjoy perching on the brackets.

Last Sunday was a busy day of tasks. I hung clothes out on the clothesline, mowed the lawn, and cleaned the house. My best customer stopped in to pick up the wizard and unicorn I had made. She lives in a nearby town whose school mascot is a dragon so she ordered a Chinese dragon made in the school colors. She also asked me to make her an afghan made with Jackfield Tiles. She said it reminded her of the embroidery her mother used to do. I made sure she liked the colors of the sample squares I had made for her. I made one with a yellow center and one with a pink center. She liked them both so I’m going to use both in the afghan. I’ve been working on the squares all week.

Sunday afternoon, EJ and I worked in the garden. I helped EJ a little with digging the rows and planting the corn, but EJ did most of it. After the corn was planted, I went into the house to crochet while he planted more seeds. He also worked in the garden most of Memorial Day.

Driving along Grand Traverse Bay

Now it’s another weekend. Yesterday we drove to Lake Leelanau to pick up a treadmill that someone had listed for free at Facebook Marketplace. The Leelanau Peninsula is a beautiful drive along the lake and through forests and blooming cherry orchards. We took the Suburban and I stayed in it while EJ and the man loaded the treadmill because the Suburban door doesn’t open and I have to climb over the driver’s seat to get in and out. The owner lives on a small hobby farm. I saw horses and several dogs. He told EJ that one of his dogs insisted on going on a one-mile walk every day. The dog knows when they have walked a mile and complains if the man tries to walk less. I love hearing stories like these.

My treasure box

When we got home, there was a package waiting for us, sent from my friend in Texas. It was filled with treasures: seashells and sea glass she had picked up on walks along the Gulf and a half package of wildflower seeds with a note, “I  planted some of these in my yard. Now we can grow the same flowers.” A year or so ago, I had sent my friend a Petoskey Stone, and products made in Michigan, such as cherry fudge, cherry salsa, cherry jam, and other stuff. I also am accumulating baby food jars filled with sand taken from along Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, and Kalkaska Sand which is Michigan’s official state soil. We both love gardening, birding, and hunting for rocks or shells as we walk along our beaches–and sharing these simple treasures. My friend also sent me seashells, dirt, and a variety of other treasures from Thailand, where her daughter had lived for a couple of years. My friend always covers the boxes or envelopes she sends with lots of stickers, which is fun. 🙂

Madeline

I haven’t seen Miss Madeline Meadows, our sweet serial killer cat, for several days now. I fear that she has become a victim of a larger predator–although there have been other times she has disappeared for several days and then returned. Madeline is an independent cat, mostly feral, and unhappy living in a house. The animal shelter where we had adopted her said she had been returned twice because she was too shy and not cuddly enough. We feed her, gave her a warm place to sleep, and let her be what she is.

Today is a cloudy day. Part of it might be clouds moving in, but part of it is definitely smoke from huge fires in Canada, or so the meteorologists are saying. Once again, we are enjoying a quiet day of watching the birds.

 

Morel Hunting

I’ve posted that I have eggs to sell in some of the local buy/sell groups at Facebook and I’ve picked up a few customers. I like doing it this way because the people can let me know through chat that they want eggs and when they will pick them up. One guy returned on Saturday for a couple dozen. He is a repeat customer. The first thing he asked when EJ and I met him at the door was, “Have you found any morels?” Hunting for morel mushrooms is a big thing here in the Spring and “Have you found any morels?” is a frequent question.

EJ had wanted to hunt for morels in our forest for several weeks, and we finally did so on Sunday. It was a rainy day, sometimes raining so hard that I found erosion fissures in the driveway the next day. The mud in the chicken yard sucked at my boots when I walked through it to care for the chickens. However, there was a period between storms in the afternoon when the sun shone, and we went walking through the forest then.

The weather turned chilly a week or so ago–we’ve had overnight frost and freeze warnings–so that I kept the house windows closed and turned the heat back on. The dampness didn’t help so I wore my warm jacket as we started off on our morel hunt. It was also humid and it wasn’t long before the exercise warmed me up and I carried my jacket instead. We didn’t find any morels, but we enjoyed the walk through the forest, which grows greener every day. Soon there will be a wall of green and we won’t be able to see very far into the forest.

This morning the sun is shining so I’ve been hanging the clothes on the clothesline. It’s a bit chilly so I wore my jacket, but the temps are supposed to rise to the low 60s today. The National Weather Service predicts that the temperatures will climb high every day, reaching the mid-70s by the end of the week. Although doing laundry isn’t usually high on the list of “Fun Things To Do,” it really is a pleasant task. As I pin the wet clothes to the line, I enjoy the quiet beauty of my surrounds, the beautiful birds singing, and the chickens’ contented clucking and crowing.

I thought I’d end this post with a photo of Hannah Joy cuddling with EJ with her favorite toy in her mouth. LOL. She is such a funny dog.

“I See You”

The day after the Not-So-Great Rabbit Rescue, I finally gathered enough courage to walk over to where I had left the baby rabbit. I fully expected to find its lifeless body and I was relieved with the place was empty. The wildlife rehabilitator had emphatically declared that the rabbit would be dead within 24 hours if it had even the smallest wound because of the bacteria a cat carries. So whether the rabbit wandered off or was carried off by a predator, I’m quite sure it didn’t make it. I was glad that at least I didn’t have to find its dead body.

A couple of days ago I put out more orange halves for the Orioles. I stuck them to the birdfeeder pole. EJ and I have rarely seen orioles in our lives so it’s an utter delight to be able to enjoy them now. We both agreed that we have had more oriole sightings in the last week than we have in all the other years combined. I couldn’t help but take photos. The photos aren’t great–I had to take it through the window screen or dirty-ish window. Plus, I don’t think my current camera is quite as good as my previous ones.

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This afternoon EJ’s friend-since-high school came to visit for a few hours. We refer to him as Hannah’s favorite uncle because she adores him. She always cuddles next to him on the couch and follows him around. It’s really cute.

Yesterday Hannah must have eaten something that disagreed with her. We try to Hannah-proof our house, but she’s always finding things to eat. This afternoon I caught her coming out of our bathroom with several Kleenexes in her mouth. She had taken them out of the pocket I had hanging in there. If I don’t put my purse out of reach, she gets into it and eats sales receipts and other papers. A few weeks ago, she got a stick of butter off the counter…and a hot pad. I suspect she eats everything because she was starved before we adopted her. I can only imagine what she ate to survive! Anyway, she ate something she shouldn’t have and then vomited all over our couch cushion. It dripped down onto the floor. It was gross. I cleaned the vomit up, and then washed the cushion in the bathtub, and then I sprayed it with pet odor/stain remover. It was rainy-ish yesterday so I hung the cushion where it could drip-dry in the tub. Today was sunny so I took the still-wet cushion outside to dry. It dried much quicker in the sun and breeze than in the bathroom.

I’ve encountered a large raccoon several times lately when I’ve gone out at twilight to shut the chickens in their coop. This evening I encountered it again. This time it was in the garden. It scrambled up a fence post when it saw me and stood there looking at me. I called, “I see you!” and it scrambled down the post and quickly climbed a tree at the edge of the forest. Every now and then, it would pause and peer around the trunk. Each time it did so, I called out, “I see you!” and it would climb a little higher. Finally, it sat in the fork in the tree and looked down at me. I shut the chickens in their coop and then hurried into the house for my camera. EJ went back outside with me. The light was fading so I couldn’t get a good photo. You can just see the raccoon’s head a little above the fork in the tree. The first photo I tried taking, the flash went off, and the photo was scarier. It looked like there was a goblin in the tree:

Goblin in the Enchanted Forest

Yesterday I finished a unicorn amigurumi. I made it with sparkly yarn to add a touch of magic to it. Now I’m working on a Winter Snow Dragon for a customer. I really enjoy making animals/dolls. I always feel as if I am bringing them to life.

You can find these and other creations at my e-store, Terics Treasures.

Life & Death

I had a lot of fun watching the bluebirds build their nests this morning. I do think that we actually have two pairs of bluebirds in our birdhouses. The ones in the house at the corner of the deck is especially fun to watch because they are so close, although I’m concerned we will scare them off when we go outside. I didn’t get much crocheting done because I kept trying to photo a bluebird with its beak full of stuff for the nest. Usually by the time I saw it, and focused my camera on it, it was already in the nest. However, I did get a few photos:

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I was looking through the viewfinder of my camera when I saw a very vividly colored bird land near the birdhouse. I thought at first it was the male bluebird, but then I got a clearer look at it and realized it was an oriole! After it flew away, I cut an orange in half and stuck it on a nail on a post. It wasn’t long before the oriole noticed it and began eating it. It ate from it for quite awhile!

The propane guy arrived today to fill our tank. We were astonished when he backed all the way up our long, steep driveway. All the other guys have driven the propane truck forward up the driveway. It’s not like we don’t have plenty of room for them to turn around up near the house. When we walked down to get the mail later, we found that the truck and knocked over a t-post, and gone off to the side of the driveway in several places, making deep ruts and crushing the rock dams and plants that we had put there to stop erosion. It was very disheartening because we have spent several years and a lot of money and effort shoveling dump truck loads of gravel and soil along the driveway, building rock dams, and planting plants to stop the erosion. The ruts will provide a canal for the rain water to run down, which the flattened dams and crushed plants will no longer stop. Sigh. I wrote the company an email later to tell them that we liked their company and service, but please tell their delivery guy(s) not to try to back up our driveway!!!! I mean, that’s just ridiculous.

It was a beautiful sunny day–warm, but not too warm–so after EJ left for work, I planted wildflower and sunflower seeds.

While I was planting the sunflowers along the fence, I spotted Miss Madeline Meadows, our serial killer cat, on the hill with a victim. I hurried toward her and when she saw me, she released it, and it quickly flew away. It was a pileated woodpecker. I think it was a young-ish one because it looked smaller than the ones we usually see.

The doomed rabbit

Later in the early evening, I looked out the window and saw Madeline trotting past the house with a rabbit in her mouth. I quickly slipped on my shoes and ran out. I was able to rescue the young rabbit. It was injured but didn’t appear to be near death. I felt responsible for it since I had rescued it, but I didn’t know what to do with it. I scooped it up in a bucket and took it down the driveway and put it near a tree in an area where we have seen rabbits before. But it just stood there frozen. I didn’t know if that was where its burrow was or if it would attract predators, so I picked it back up and put it back in the bucket. I carried it up to the house and made a little nest for it in a cat carrier where it would be safe. I didn’t know what to feed it or how to care for its wounds. I finally searched the Internet for a local animal rehabilitator. I called the number and explained that I rescued a little rabbit from a cat and I didn’t know what to do next. The woman told me that the rabbit will be dead within 24 hours. She said that cats have a bacteria that will kill the rabbit if its skin is pierced even the slightest bit. She said that I should just put the rabbit outside where it will be most comfortable and leave it. I felt anguished and tearful as I took the rabbit outside. I left it near a wooden pallet so that that maybe it will be somewhat protected as it dies. Death sucks.

I like that Madeline kills mice, shews, moles, and voles, but I hate when she kills anything else. Of course, she is only acting according to her nature and being the predator that she is. And the truth is that although nature is bursting with wonderful life, it is not as peaceful as we would like to believe. We are also surrounded every day by constant life and death struggles as one critter kills another to survive. I just don’t always have to see it. I would prefer not to see it.

 

Crikey!

I hope all of you had a wonderful Mother’s Day!

EJ and I spent the day…well, the morning, at least…at TSC buying vegetable seeds. Buying seeds or plants is always fun. We found everything we were looking for except parsnips seeds. I love parsnips! We stopped at the Garden Center at Meijers hoping they would have some but, nope, they didn’t. EJ said he would buy some off the Internet. Although we didn’t find parsnips, we did find a sale on blueberry bushes so we bought several and planted them along the back garden fence.

EJ would eventually like to get the outside cats out of his garage. Miss Madeline Meadows, our sweet serial killer cat, brings her kills into the garage and they start to stink if I don’t get them out in time. And in the winter Annie uses the garage as her litter box because she doesn’t like to go out into the snow.

The doghouse moved here for the cats

The previous owners of our house left two wooden doghouses when they moved away. We put one in the coop for the chickens to roost on and in and the other was in the garden area that we expanded last year. It would make a very nice house for the cats. We were going to move it up near the garage to keep it out of the nasty weather with straw bales around it and tarp on top to get it dry and insulated. But I worried about coyotes, cougars, and bobcats. They could always get through the pet door into the garage–like the raccoon does–if they wanted but the dog/cat house seems more accessible outside. So I decided to move it next to the garage inside the garden fence where it would be more protected.

We are still getting frost–last Friday we even had a few flakes of snow mixed in with the rain!–so we can’t plant our garden yet. However, we will be able to plant soon so I figured that I might as well move the dog house today. It had been in the area we had expanded last year. We are going to try planting corn there this year. The doghouse was very difficult to move because it is very solidly built and very heavy. I had to take off the removable roof and then sashay the doghouse, moving first one side and then the other. I couldn’t move it in a direct line to the other side of the garden because there is not enough room between the raised beds, so I had to drag it diagonally away from where I wanted it, through the large gate and back along the fence and in through the little garden gate. It just fit! I was very tired afterward so I took a break in the house before going back out to move the roof.

When I went back outside, Madeline and Annie were already in the doghouse even though it didn’t have a roof! With a lot of effort–I believe the roof is even heavier than the house–I heaved the roof onto the wheelbarrow and wheeled it through the big gate and up to the small gate. It was sideways on the wheelbarrow and wouldn’t fit through the gate so I dragged it off the wheelbarrow and over to the doghouse and then heaved it onto the doghouse. Ugh! It was HEAVY! But I finally got it up and positioned correctly. The cats seem to like it: I saw them out in, around, and on it several times today.

EJ did some maintenance on the lawnmower today. I mowed the lawn after he left. It was the first time I’ve mowed this year.

In spite of the cool weather, Spring is arriving. Every day the trees are greener. We’ve also been enjoying the wild birds building their nests. I’ve watched bluebirds building nests in two different birdhouses. I’m not sure if I’m seeing two different couples or one couple that can’t make up their minds about which house to move into. I would love it they moved into the birdhouse(s) because they are such a beautiful splash of color! I do worry about Madeline getting to them though. We’ve also spotted a rose-breasted grosbeak the other day.

The turkeys have been frequently parading through our property. Even when we don’t see them, we often hear their loud gobble-gobble-gobble echo through the forest. This morning three toms and a hen walked close to the house. The toms put on quite a display as they tried to attract the hen.

When we walked to the mailbox a couple of weeks ago we found a pile of poo in the middle of the driveway. It looked a bit unusual. After our neighbor told us about the bobcats and cougars in our neighborhood, I got to wondering if it was left by one of them so I googled “bobcat scat.” I found an article with photos that looked very much like the poo we found AND the article said that it is common for bobcats to deposit their scat in the center of trails or dusty roads. We found the scat in the middle of our driveway. So, I’d say we definitely have a bobcat in the area.

I feel as if I should start exclaiming, “Crikey!” like Steve Irwin did. JJ and I used to watch his wildlife program years ago. We were shocked and sad when we learned he had died.

Friday EJ and I delivered a hooded unicorn blanket to one of my customers. I’ve also finished making an adorable wizard and an awesome Chinese Dragon. I really enjoy making amigurumi. It feels as if I am bringing the creatures to life. I told EJ this morning that I think God had a lot of fun creating. He asked, “Why do you say that?” I replied, “Because I have a lot of fun creating…and we were made in the image of God.”  Here is the wizard and the Chinese Dragon:

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You can see these and my other items at my e-store, Terics Treasures.

I’m now working on a unicorn. I will use glittery yarn to make it look magical.

Shifting

Now that I know that there are cougars, bobcats in our area in addition to coyotes and bears, I find myself scrutinizing the forest in hopes of seeing them. Not that I really expect to see any because animals blend into the forest really well. But, you never know….

Sunday evening when EJ and I went out to shut the chickens in their coop, we surprised a very large raccoon along the garden fence. I suspect he had been on his way into or out of the garage. I often find evidence that a raccoon had come into the garage through the pet door–the cats’ food bucket overturned or dragged over to the door, their drinking water dirtied, and so forth. The raccoon quickly scurried off into the forest. I counted the chickens to make sure they were all in the coop, and after I had shut them in safely for the night, EJ and I walked up the hill and peered into the forest, but the raccoon had vanished.

Although we have only eight hens, they give us more eggs than we can use in a week. I had originally planned to sell extra chicken eggs, but I wasn’t sure how to go about advertising. However, now that there are so many buy/sell groups at Facebook, it’s very easy to post items for sale. So far I two people have bought two dozen eggs each, and the family that took our drainage tile and snow fence last weekend said they might buy some of the eggs. We won’t get rich from selling eggs, but the money I get can help a little with the cost of poultry feed.

EJ’s had been working first shift, but his company moved him to second shift starting this week. When they hired him, it was agreed that EJ would eventually work that shift. EJ had worked second shift during most of our married life, and we actually prefer it in many ways. On second shift, EJ doesn’t have to worry about oversleeping, he has a chance to deal with his back pain before work, and if there’s a lot of snow overnight (in the winter), we have time to clear the driveway. Also, EJ doesn’t have to take time off to go to doctor or other appointments.

Of course, every shift has its advantages and disadvantages, and it takes some adjustment to change from one shift to another. I’ll have to get used to EJ being home in the morning instead of the evening. It was rather lonely last evening because I’m so used to EJ being home then. Mostly, we will have to figure out how to handle meals. EJ plans to have a really big breakfast, then a light lunch later, and then his lunch at work. But I usually get out of bed at 7 a.m.-ish, and I eat breakfast as soon as I’ve taken care of all the pets. EJ will probably get up around 10-11 am. He will be ready for breakfast when I am ready for lunch….We will be out of sync until we figure it all out.

On first shift EJ had to get up about 4 a.m., and he usually went to bed at 9 pm. Now he won’t get home from work until around 3:30 a.m. It’s going to be a rough transition for a few days. This weekend he worked at staying up later and later. He managed to stay awake until about 1:30 a.m, but didn’t quite manage to keep awake until 3:30 a.m. I stayed up with him each night to help him keep awake.

 

Coyotes, Bobcats and Cougars (Oh, My!)

It’s been a tough week in which we tried to help someone and got sucked into a lot of unwanted drama, which strengthened our resolve to keep it out of our lives because it triggers huge stress in our lives, and we have absolutely, positively had enough drama stress!!!

But let’s not talk about that. Let’s move on.

Today was our township’s clean up days, which means that we could take unwanted items/trash to the local waste disposal facility for free. EJ had filled up the Suburban yesterday after he got home from work and we drove the short distance to the facility early this morning. We arrived early enough that there wasn’t a line, but we saw several vehicles–some with trailers  some without–loaded up and headed that way as we drove home.

We had a few items that we didn’t want but which were too good to throw away, so I took photos of them yesterday while EJ loaded the Suburban and I posted them for free at local buy/sell groups at Facebook. The items included drainage tile, the snow fence that we had bought for our driveway a couple of years ago but which didn’t work as well as we had hoped, and our old printer that maybe someone with skills could fix. We quickly got a nibble on the tile.

The man, his wife, and their 3-year-old son came this morning to get the tile. They also took the snow fence, as well as some tires/rims. The couple lived just around the corner and down the road a bit so they are our neighbors. They were very nice and we had an enjoyable visit.

This is where it gets interesting.

They told us that they frequently see bobcats and cougars in our area. In fact, the man said that early one morning he saw a bobcat in OUR driveway as he drove past.

They have often encountered bobcats nesting on their property–possibly attracted to their pond. Sometimes when they’ve mowed the lawn, they’ve disturbed bobcats that had been lying n the grass only a few feet away.  They’ve also had coyotes and, they said, coywolves (which are coyote/wolf hybrids) come right up near their house. They ended up fencing some of their back yard a couple of years ago when their son was only one year old because they didn’t want to risk him getting attacked.

As if bobcats and coyotes were not enough, they’ve also seen cougars. The man said that one day he heard coyotes chasing something, so he turned to see, expecting that they were hunting a deer. Instead, the coyotes were chasing a cougar. He watched as the cougar turned on the coyotes and tore them to pieces.

The wife said that one time when she pulled into t heir driveway, they were so close–I can’t remember if it was coyotes or a bobcat–that she was afraid to get out of their car.

This is in OUR neighborhood. Wow!

I was aware that we had coyotes–we’ve heard them yipping now and then–and I knew there were bears around, but I didn’t realize that we had cougars and bobcats so close to us. For the last year or so I’ve been telling EJ that I would love to get some trail cams on our property so I could see what wildlife wanders through. Learning about the bobcats, coyotes, and cougars in our area make me even more eager to get them–but we can’t afford it yet. At least I have been warned that they are here so I can be watchful and careful.

I’m really glad we met this family and heard such an amazing story!

 

Spring Coats

Last week our weather forecast predicted a bit of snow over the weekend, but the snow veered off downstate instead. I sometimes chuckle a bit because when we told people we were moving from southern to northern Michigan, they all said, “Wow! It’s so beautiful up there! But I’d hate to live there in winter!” because of all the snow. We do get quite a bit of snow, of course, and I’m sure there are years of very bad snowstorms, but so far it seems to me that downstate gets more frequent storms of all types in every season. Even when we get a lot of snow in our area, the snowplows are skilled at clearing the roads, so it’s really not that bad. The more snow an area typically gets, the better the workers are at clearing it. Of course, our long steep driveway presents a challenge for us in winter, but we still love where we live!

We actually had nice weather over the weekend, although it was a little cool with temps in the 50s (F). It’s colder today with the highs reaching only into the mid-40s. Over the weekend I wore my lined jacket or hoodie, which at times felt too warm. Today I’m back to wearing my winter coat. I have a pile of coats on top of the washer/dryer in the laundry room so I can switch to a coat that matches the day’s weather: winter coat, winter chore coat, warm jacket, warm hoodie. I also have a pile of footwear: chore boots, nice boots, and sneakers. Once warm weather is here to stay, the coats and boots will be put away until autumn.

We are expecting rain all week. But rain is not snow so I’m ok with it. I actually enjoy rainy days. They feel cozy and cuddly.  There is a stiff breeze today and I have been watching birds soaring overhead as I write. The wind is strong enough that they are hardly flapping their wings. It looks as if they are enjoying it.

As soon as EJ got home from work on Friday, we headed over to our propane company because they were offering a special low price for portable propane tank fill ups. We took one of our 25 gallon tanks that we use to fuel our propane heater when we lose our power in the winter. We let Hannah Joy go along with us and she enjoyed the ride.

Saturday morning we took Hannah Joy for another ride…to the veterinarian. It was just a regular appointment to test her for heartworm and parasites. Both her tests were negative so she is in good health. We also bought some heartworm and flea/tick medications to protect her from creepy-crawlies. We were going to get Hannah’s nails clipped as well, but she was stressed from the blood draw and injection so we decided not to stress her further. The veterinarian is the one who cared for Hannah and two other dogs when the animal shelter rescued them from a home where they had been kept outside and starved. She gave Hannah lovings and remarked on how well and happy she looked.

We had considered visiting the grand opening of a new farm store in Traverse City on Sunday but we decided to stay home instead. EJ worked on the vehicles and in his garage while I crocheted. I have another order for a hooded unicorn blanket.  I was glad to get a second order because I had forgotten to weight the first one, which is important for calculating shipping. I went as far as I could with the yarn I had, but I have to wait for additional yarn to be delivered. At this time our Suburban has a problem that needs fixing so I can only go to the craft stores on the weekends. Also, sometimes the craft stores don’t have the color of yarn I need so I figure it’s actually cheaper and easier to order exactly the yarn I need on-line and have it shipped to me, especially when there are sales on items and/or shipping.

While I wait for my yarn to arrive (tomorrow), I’ve been working on a couple new items. I made a very cute little cow. I also began a wizard and another dragon. I knew I wouldn’t have enough of the necessary yarn to finish either so I already ordered more. I have the wizard all done except for his hat, and a really good start on the dragon. They are adorable and I can’t wait to share them with you. The dragon reminds me of a Chinese dragon so I’m making him in red and gold. I will call him a fire dragon. He will be added to my collection of dragons. So far I have a winter snow dragon, forest dragon, and lake dragon (Torch Lake Dragon). I have a fondness for dragons and other fairy tale creatures.

In addition to crocheting, yesterday I went out and moved the dogloo in the chicken pen a few feet so that I could start a new compost pile where it had been. Once we get the garden planted, the chickens will no longer be allowed into it. They are so good at scratching up the dirt, including in the compost pile, that I wanted to move the pile from the garden into their pen so they can continue their good work. Plus, they can forage among the vegetable scraps for additional nutrients.

The chickens are laying regularly now. They give us more eggs than we can actually use so this morning I posted an “eggs for sale” ad in a local buy/sell group. We only have eight hens so we won’t ever be able to sell a large number of eggs, but if we can find 1-2 regular customers then the eggs won’t be wasted.

In a recent post, I described how the chickens follow me whenever I go into our fenced-in garden/coop. I took a video of them when I went out one afternoon to give them fresh water and gather their eggs. I always give them cracked corn so I can work without their interference. I really enjoy my chickens.

Every year we have a female turkey or two build their nests on our property. Almost every day we spy one wandering through our property looking for food. This year there is a turkey nesting in the forest. Whenever there is a large noise, I hear her loud gobble-gobble-gobble of alarm echoing through the forest. In the summer, her babies will follow her across our property. I think they are adorable.

This morning I worked on my latest newsletter for my store. In the process, I learned how to make a coupon so I can offer discounts. If you’d like to receive my newsletters, there is a sign up button in the menu at the right of my posts. There are links within the newsletter so you can easily share it with your family or friends. Or you can share the direct link to my Terics Treasures webpage. Your sharing through your emails or social media pages will really help me grow my business. I’d totally appreciate it!

 

vet

Passover

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter/Passover!

EJ took last Friday off work. Actually, his regular 40-hour work week is ten hours Monday through Thursday, but the company allows–encourages, actually–employees to work additional days as well so EJ usually works eight hours on Friday. The overtime is very useful in helping us pay down some of our bills.

EJ’s previous company let employees dump their household trash in their large dumpsters for free, but when EJ lost his job last winter (because of health problems), we had to figure out an inexpensive way to get rid of our household trash. We figured out that it was much, much cheaper if we took our trash to the waste company ourselves instead of paying for curbside pickup. Even though EJ now has a job, we continue to take our trash to the waste company ourselves. It’s only a few miles away. With just the two of us, we only have to go once a month or so. We made a trash run on Friday morning.

Afterwards, we drove to the store to buy supplies for Passover. After we returned home, EJ worked on the Xterra while I cleaned the house, crocheted for a bit, and then I prepared our Passover meal.

When I began to study Hebrew about 10-15 years ago, I was exposed to the beautiful Hebraic mindset of the Scriptures. I felt as if my understanding of Scripture and my faith went to a whole new level. I compare it to looking at an everyday item through a microscope. You assume you know what the item looks like, but then you look at it at a deeper level through a microscope and it’s like “Wow! I never knew it looked like that!” If you are interested, here is a You Tube video of items seen through a microscope. It fascinates me.

Anyway, when we began learning Hebrew, we started celebrating Passover instead of Easter. Every item in the Passover meal is deeply and beautifully symbolic and engages all the senses. If you would like to learn more, here is a website that teaches about Passover in a simple, easy-to-understand way:

Why Are Christians Celebrating Passover?

Hannah Joy insists on being involved in all our activities and she tried to climb into my lap during our Passover meal. Finally, though, she settled down under the table. There’s a time in the meal when a child is supposed to go to the door to see if Elijah was there. We didn’t have a child so EJ went to the door. I said to Hannah, “Who’s here?” and she ran to the windows barking. LOL.

Hannah Joy makes us laugh a lot. Danny, our previous dog, was very sweet, gentle, quiet, patient, and very polite. Hannah is sweet, but she is definitely not patient nor quiet nor polite. When she wants something, she wants it NOW and she lets us know it in no uncertain terms. She can look a bit ferocious when she’s insisting we give her want she wants, but she’s actually just communicating with her various growls, barks, and other noises. If I don’t move fast enough, she will put her head under my lap table to upset it, or try to grab my crochet pattern, or even pull my blanket off me. I took this video of her last week. She wanted outside and I was videoing her instead. LOL.

My organized and labeled eyes (and Hannah’s nose)

Saturday we had a quiet day. I spent a couple of hours organizing my craft eyes by size in the  tackle box I “stole” from EJ a few years ago. I labeled the sizes so I can more easily see what I have and reorder when I get low.

Sunday we delivered a crocheted item to a customer. Afterwards we stopped at a couple of grocery stores to post Terics Treasures signs on their community boards. When we got home, EJ worked a bit more on the Xterra while I spent the afternoon figuring out how to add a few things to my Terics Treasures website–such as another payment method and links on this blog (at right) and on my website to sign up to my e-store newsletter. In the newsletters, there are links to share my newsletter, website, and Facebook page. I’d really appreciate if you’d share them with anyone you know who might be interested in my products. I’m trying to “grow” my business to help supplement our income.

Madeline lurking.

Sunday afternoon I spotted Miss Madeline Meadows, our sweet serial killer cat, trotting past the windows with a large chipmunk in her mouth. I am glad when she kills mice, voles, moles, and shrews, but I hate when she kills anything else. I figured the chipmunk was dead, but EJ suddenly exclaimed that it had escaped so I ran out to distract Madeline so the chipmunk would have time to get to safety. At first I couldn’t see either the cat or the chipmunk, but then I spied Madeline sitting not far away (with no chipmunk) on a fallen tree. With her coloring, she blends right in with the forest trees and dead leaves. Yesterday I found the bodies of two rodents–one inside the garage and one just outside the garage. I couldn’t tell if they were mice or shrews, but I didn’t mind that she had killed them. Mice carry disease and I’ve read that they will nibble off the toes of chickens while they sleep at night. And shrews are venemous.

Often at this time of year I see a lone female turkey wandering in our property. I’m sure she has a nest nearby and is just taking a break to eat. We saw Madeline stalking the hen. I don’t think Madeline is any match for the turkey. When we first moved here our dog Danny disturbed a Mama Turkey and she ferociously chased him away. However, I do worry about the babies when they hatch. I hope the Mama sets Madeline a firm boundary if Madeline tries anything.

Monday morning, I saw that the high temperature was forecasted to reach up near 80 degrees! So I got out the screens and inserted them into the windows. Once the temps rose into the 60s, I turned off the furnace and opened all the windows for the first time this year! Whoo hoo!

Today it is cloudy and rainy. The temps are forecasted to reach only 49 degrees so the windows will remain closed and the furnace is back on.

 

Chicken Run

Our weather was a bit wacky this last week. It began to snow last Sunday afternoon. On Monday morning, we woke to a beautiful snow-covered ground and trees. Here are photos I took:

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By Monday evening the snow had disappeared. The temperatures warmed throughout the week. Yesterday evening we had rain rat-tat-tatting on our roof. It looks like rain again today.

I love each of Michigan’s seasons. Autumn’s colors are breathtaking and there is an vigorating chill in the air. Winter is magical when the landscape is clothed in white and the wildlife comes close to the house to eat from the birdfeeders. Spring is exciting when the plants begin to poke above the ground and the flowers bloom. It’s wonderful to work in the garden during the Summer and to enjoy green leaves, beautiful wildflowers, campfires, t-shirts and shoes instead of coats and boots. Of course, Winter is challenging because of our long, steep driveway that we have to keep snow-blowed. Warmer months are challenging because the creepy-crawlies wake up.

Since yesterday I have encountered three wolf spiders. One was right up on the threshold of our front door. They especially seem to like snuggling right up to the bottom of the door, which means that if I open the door, they are likely to drop inside the house. When I saw the spider as I stepped onto the porch, I grabbed a straight-edged shovel to move it away. I wasn’t deliberately trying to kill it but it left behind some of its legs when it hobbled off. Probably to die. Oh, well. I know there are spider-lovers out there, but I am not one of them. I figure there are billions and billions to the nth power of spiders in the world, and they will not become extinct if I kill a few. I let them live if they remain outside, but I kill them if they are in the house. Or near the house. Or on me. Or in my personal space. A few hours later, a second spider dropped down from the ceiling onto the porch when I opened the door to go outside. I thought, “Great! Now I have to be alert for spiders falling from the ceiling!” I’d have had to walk over the spider so I quickly shut the door, found my spider spray, and then when out and sprayed it until it was dead. I saw a third spider lurking near the door inside the house in our entrance hallway this morning. It was small. I stomped on it. I have put traps in strategic places throughout the house to lure creepy-crawlies to their deaths. I have to be careful now with sprays because, for some reason, Hannah Banana likes to try to lick the places where I have sprayed. We can’t have that! So I bought pet-safe traps and put them in out-of-reach places around the house–like inside cabinets, under furniture, and in closets.

Last weekend–I think it was Saturday–I had sort of a chicken misadventure. About 4 pm each afternoon, I go out to give the chickens fresh water and gather their eggs. The chickens always run up to me when they see me coming. Fun Fact: I’ve read that chickens consider the humans who care for them as honorary members of the flock. If a rooster believes his human to be lower in the pecking order, he will try to boss the human around. I think this is what happens when roosters are mean–they consider themselves to be dominant and they are trying to get the human “in line.” When my roosters were chicks, I made sure to establish my dominance–I would occasionally “nudge” them with my cane when they fluffed their feathers and got sassy–so my roosters consider me Chicken Leader One and they are quite nice.

Anyway, when the chickens crowd the gate, it  is a bit tricky to get through it–I have to shuffle through the gate so I don’t step on any of the chickens crowding around me while carrying the egg basket and bucket of water, and then get the gate closed again before any chickens get out. I’ve never had a problem with them escaping–until Saturday. Sassy, our primary rooster, squeezed by me before I could get the gate closed. Chickens like to be with the rest of their flock so all I had to do was open the gate and steer him in the right direction and he would go right back in…except all the other chickens were crowding the gate so when I held it open for Sassy, a hen escaped. Now I had two “free” chickens. I couldn’t keep the gate open for Sassy and the hen without letting more escape so I ran inside the house, shouted to EJ that I needed his help, and ran back out to make sure Sassy and the hen didn’t wander too far away.  When EJ joined me, I stood near the garden gate while he walked toward the escaped chickens. They ran toward the gate, I opened it, and in they went. Easy peasy.

The chickens always put themselves to bed in their coop when twilight descends. I simply go out and make sure they are all inside and then I close their little door so they are safe from nighttime predators. Usually Sassy and six of the hens roost on top of the TSC coop inside the shed while Captain and his two hens roost inside it. I feel like Mr. Tweedie in the Pixar movie Chicken Run when I shine my flashlight at them to count them to make sure they are all in. Sunday evening when I went to the coop, I counted only eight chickens. I was heading out of the coop to see if I could find the missing chickens when I heard a loud clucking as if one was saying, “Here we are!” We have three dog houses in various places outside so the chickens can run into them for safety if there are predators around. Fortunately, the crows in our Enchanted Forest chase away flying predators. I saw two crows driving off a hawk a few days ago.

Anyway, Captain Ame-roo-ca, our second rooster had gone into the dogloo with a hen when it started snowing and they didn’t want to walk through the snow later to go into the coop. My chickens hate snow. The hen came up to me when I neared the dogloo so I picked her up and took her into the coop. However, Captain didn’t want to leave the dogloo. I had to get out my rubber-footed cane, which I use like a shepherd’s staff, to reach in and nudge him out of the coop. It took a bit, but he finally came out. He ran across the snow and got into the storage part of the coop where we keep the food and straw. However, Sassy, our primary rooster, was standing in the door way to the chicken part of the coop and Captain didn’t want to go past him. Instead, he flapped up on top of a straw bale. I picked him up, took him into the coop past Sassy, and set him on top of the doghouse in the coop.

Chickens settling down in the evening.

I told EJ that I always feel a deep sense of contentment when the chickens are all settling down in their coops in the evening. It such a cozy, homey feeling. In fact, it is very “warm fuzzy” to have the chickens run up to me when they see me. It’s often very difficult to walk in their area because they walk along with me, even stepping on my feet. I like chickens. They are interesting.

My e-store website is hosted by Bluehost. Woocommerce is a related company that sets up the store plugins–the shopping cart and payment and shipping options, and things like that. Constant Contact is another related company that helps a person grow his/her e-business by helping with contact forms, contact lists, and emails/newsletters. I talked to a person from Constant Contact yesterday because I wasn’t really sure exactly how to get started with them. The woman was very helpful (I have found Bluehost, Woocommerce, and Constant Contact support people to be awesome.) She explained how they can help ME. She set up an awesome newsletter/email for me so I could share my news and products with people and she explained how to set up and edit their various templates. My first newsletter/email has links to my e-store products, links to sign up for emails, as well as links so people can share it with others on various social media. I think it looks amazing and professional. Take a look:

My first newsletter!

The Constant Contact woman told me that she helps many people grow their businesses. Right now, craft businesses (like mine) are doing very well. She thought my items were beautiful/cute and very well photographed. “I’ve seen many craft products that aren’t photographed well, but yours look great!” She also asked me who designed my website. I said, somewhat sheepishly, “I did!” She said, “Oh! Wow! Well, you will certainly have no trouble using our services.” She made me feel very encouraged and proud of my accomplishments. She made me feel like “I can do this!” I am so thankful for these support people who are helping me set up my store. I couldn’t do it without them.

Well, I’ve got to go back to work!

Hannah Joy’s Game

Shoes!

The weather this week has been very, uh, variable. Last weekend temperatures reached 70 (F) degrees! It was so warm that I went outside without a coat and I wore shoes (instead of boots) for the first time this year! Woo hoo! Tuesday the weather cooled and became increasingly cold. Yesterday it snowed. About an inch, I’d guess. It was just enough to cover everything in white again. I’ve had to put my coat and boots back on when I went outside. Today it is raining. But, hey, it’s no surprise: during April in Michigan the weather tends to get a little crazy.

During the mornings and evenings, as the sun begins to rise or descend, it often touches the tops of the trees, making them shine with a golden light that is extremely beautiful. It makes me feel as if my forest really is enchanted. It was so especially beautiful one morning this week that I ran outside with my camera. The camera can’t capture just how truly beautiful it is, but it does give a glimpse.

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The magical golden light only lasts for a few minutes. And then suddenly–poof!–the light is gone as if it  has been switched off.

Our Hannah Joy is such an intelligent, funny, quirky dog. She loves to play “Fetch” with us, but she has developed her own version of the game. She likes to place her ball in various places near us: On our laps or legs, to the right or left of our recliners, in front of our recliners, hidden in our blankets, in the end table drawer where I keep the yarn for my current project, under the end table…When she has placed her ball, she backs up to sit on the rug and wait for us to throw it to her. Many times she is so quiet and sneaky that we aren’t even aware that she has put her ball somewhere until she barks sharply and looks at us expectantly.  Sometimes she is so clever at where she has put her ball, that it takes us a moment to find it. I made a point of photographing her and her ball this week so you could see:

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Hannah Joy keeps us laughing. I don’t know what we’d do without her!

 

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