Like every year at this time, we were determined to hold off turning on the furnace as long as possible. I lost the game on Saturday night. I went to bed but thought, “Brrrr. I’m a bit cold.” So I stuck my head out of the bedroom door and said to EJ, who stays up later than I do, “It’s ok if you want to turn on the furnace.” He just laughed. I went to bed, but I was still cold. I got out of bed and stuck my head out of the door again and suggested, “We could always set the thermostat to 50 or something so the indoor temperature doesn’t go below that during the night.” He laughed and said he would turn on the heat. Last year we kept the thermostat at 65 degrees (F) to save on heating costs. We were fine with our warm sweatshirts, sweaters, and blankets/afghans–and a dog and cat or two. So this year we decided we’d try setting the thermostat at 64 degrees. 🙂
We’ve had some indecisive weather over the last couple of days. Sunday it rained all day, and also hailed or sleeted (I’m not sure how to tell the difference), and EJ said he thought he saw it snowing. Even when it wasn’t raining, hailing/sleeting, or snowing, the damp cold went right through us. Brrrrr. Today we had periods of sunshine, rain, and snow. The snow was like rainy-snow or snowy-rain, we weren’t sure which–sort of neither one nor the other. When cold weather first arrives, it’s always a bit of a shock. Once we get used to it, we enjoy the winter weather.
When it wasn’t raining/snowing, we made more preparations for winter. Yesterday EJ harvested the rest of the garden produce–the potatoes and pumpkins. Today we put away the patio furniture.
Yesterday I cut up some of the apples we picked on Saturday and put them in the “Magic Mill” dehydrator. I’ve never dried apples before–usually, I just dry herbs–so I only did a few trays to experiment. EJ said they turned out splendidly so I cut up more apples this afternoon and they are drying now.
I also made homemade granola yesterday. I hadn’t made it since before JJ was diagnosed with cancer in 2013. I didn’t know where my old recipe went to, but I like this newer one better: Granola Recipe. It turned out well. We ate it all so I made another batch today. We like to eat it with yogurt. I will be making it often.
I’ve also been crocheting a lot. I have a lot of very cute new items in my e-store, and I have a lot more that I want to make. You can check them out here: Terics Treasures. You can help me out by also sharing my store link with others.
Saturday night we heard the coyotes howling like banshees. We heard them again Sunday night when we took Hannah Joy out for the final time before bed. They sounded extremely close the second night–the closest I’ve ever heard them. Their howls are very spine-chilling, and we were all a bit spooked. Hannah Joy finished her “business” and we all hurried back to the safety of the house.
I was glad that the chickens and outdoor cats were all safely shut up in the coop. All of the young ones are now roosting with the older ones in various places. I took a few photos of them tonight. The young ones don’t yet have full combs on their heads. It’s very cozy in the coop. (FYI: The yellow kitty litter buckets are filled with chicken feed.)
The chicks no longer stay inside their smaller coop, although they haven’t yet gotten brave enough to venture outside. They are gradually integrating with the older flock. I saw all but one of them roosting with the older ones tonight when I went out to shut them all in the coop. With twenty chickens and three cats living in the coop, it is getting happily crowded. EJ says it makes him smile when he sees all the animals. Me too.
Thursday I walked to the edge of our property to see how the work was progressing at our neighbor’s. I really do not usually spy on the neighbors, but the rumble and vibration of the heavy machinery had made me curious to see what on earth they were doing over there. The machines have finished their work and quiet has returned to our Enchanted forest. I saw a flat area with boundaries marked with stakes. They are definitely going to build some sort of structure. Maybe a house? Or a storage building?
We’ve had a series of warm autumn days–in the high mid- to high-60s but today the temperature was only in the high 40s and itis forecasted to dip down into the 30s for the next few nights. Brrr. We are playing our annual game of waiting as long as we can before we turn on the furnace. So far we have done nicely without turning it on, but with temperatures getting lower I think it won’t be very long before we give in.
Today we drove to the eastern side of the state to visit EJ’s friend–or, rather, it’s the 100-acre woods where EJ’s friend’s elderly father lives and where EJ goes hunting every November. EJ has known the family for so many years that he is actually an honorary member of the family.
The autumn colors are nearing their peak, so the drive was very beautiful.
The friends have an over-abundance of apples and pears on their old trees so we picked several baskets of various sizes and a birdseed bag of them to take home. The guys stood on the little utility vehicle to reach the higher fruit while I picked the lower ones–and when I couldn’t reach anymore, I held the baskets for them to drop the fruit into. I also took photos. 🙂 It was very fun, and we feel richly blessed.
Tomorrow we will begin processing the fruit. I will dry some of the apples, EJ wants to make pear butter, and we will probably can some of each.
It’s been more than a week since I’ve posted anything. Oops. Sometimes time speeds by very fast.
Last week I spent a day “chatting” to tech support for the Terics Treasures website because the shipping fees weren’t coming out right–either too little or too much–and I didn’t know what was wrong. The person I talked to, whom I called “Hero Support” very patiently answered my many questions and helped me figure out what was wrong. It’s working now. Yay!
Last Thursday I finally let the little chicks, who are not so little anymore, join the older flock. When they were a week old, I put the chicks in a “fancy” little coop which, along with an old wooden dog house, is inside the shed that we use as THE COOP. That way the young and old flocks could get used to each other while being safely separated. I opened the fancy coop door with trepidation because I know that chickens establish a pecking order by putting those in lesser status in their place. I’ve read that sometimes it can get quite brutal, and I didn’t want the younger ones to get hurt. The chicks are timid and at first, they stayed mostly in their fancy coop, but every day they are getting bolder and venturing out a little more. Thankfully, I haven’t seen any real bullying. In fact, the first night, I saw one of the chicks roosting just behind the older chickens on top of their fancy coop, and one chick was cuddling with a hen inside the old doghouse. That is probably the same hen who seems to have “adopted” the chicks; I have seen her hanging out with them. So the integration seems to be going quite well. Whew!
A freeze was predicted for northern Michigan for Friday night so we spent the day making a few more preparations for winter. We drove to a nearby farm to buy some straw bales for the coop. When we returned home, I cleaned out the fancy coop where the chicks had been contained and put fresh straw in it, as well as other places in THE COOP. The hummingbirds have left for their migratory journey so I put their feeders away. I also brought in the houseplants. In the summer I put the houseplants out on the deck, but when the weather turns colder, I bring them back inside the house for the winter. I took the screens out and washed the windows.
EJ worked on the Suburban. Then we worked together to make sure the last of our garden was harvested–except for the pumpkins and potatoes, which aren’t yet quite ready. We covered them with fencing so the chickens can’t eat them and then we opened the gate to let the chickens in to roam. They are having a wonderful time in there gleaning in our garden. Their scratching the dirt actually helps prepare the garden for next year’s planting.
Our property was originally 10 acres but, at some point, a previous owner divided it into two 5-acre properties. We have one 5-acre property and a neighbor has the other. We actually share a portion of our driveway with those neighbors. We live on the top of the hill and they live below us. We don’t see them much because their place is actually their vacation home so they are there only a few times in the summer and not at all in the winter. However, we suspect that they might be retiring and planning to live up here full-time. They have a small cabin on their land, but we are wondering if they are planning to build a bigger home there. If so, we hope they are friendly–and quiet–permanent neighbors.
Whatever our neighbor’s plans are, there is certainly some major work being done there. We walked to the edge of our property and looked down the hill to see what they were doing. Trees are being knocked down and construction equipment has been moving large amounts of dirt–er, actually sand–around and packing it down. I think it’s rather sad that people move to a beautiful forested area and then knock down the trees. The forest between us is thinning and can glimpse a bit more of their property. 😦 We love the privacy the trees give us, and we are hoping they won’t take down too many of their trees. We might start planting more trees on our land if they do.
For the last four or five days, we’ve heard a constant rumble from the heavy machines. The machines are actually vibrating our house. We feel the vibration and sometimes even hear dishes rattle. When we lived in our small village downstate, we were used to the “city” noise of nearby neighbors. However, it’s been so quiet up here in our Enchanted Forest that the rumble and vibration are jarring. It is giving me a headache and setting me on edge. EJ says it doesn’t bother him; in fact, the vibration of his chair actually feels good on his back.
The work goes on from morning until well after dark. I hope it won’t go on for too much longer. It’s damaging my calm.
Friday, as usual, was our errand day. We were planning to buy some straw bales for the chicken coop. I called a farm store and a hardware store where we have bought bales in previous years, but EJ said they were much too expensive. We will try to buy some straw directly from a local farmer. We crossed that errand off our days’ errand list and instead, we just went to Meijers for a few groceries.
Saturday we drove to Pigeon River Country State Park to look for elk. There is a large wild herd of elk in that area. We figured that we had a better chance of seeing the elk–and hearing them–if they were still in rut. We drove along very narrow roads, called “trails,” that wound through the almost 10,000 acre State Park. The roads were seasonal–meaning they don’t get plowed in the winter–and they were so narrow that when we met another car coming in the opposite direction, we both had to pull a little off the road to pass each other. One forest-lined road looked much like another and I would have been hopelessly lost without EJ.
We found an open area that we felt would be attractive to elk. When we pulled up, a man got out of his truck and walked over to our vehicle. Turns out he was a hunting guide, helping a customer hunt an elk. Michigan has regulated elk hunting to manage the number and location of elk in northern Michigan. This helps balance the negative impacts of too many elk, such as habitat degradation, disease, and property damage. Approximately 36,000 Michigan hunters apply annually at a chance to hunt an elk but typically, only about 100-200 elk licenses are available annually.
I have no problem with hunting but I really didn’t want to see an elk get shot–our goal was to enjoy living elk–so we moved on. The hunting guide described an area where we were likely to see elk, so we drove there and parked along the road. We saw a Mama deer and her two babies in a field, but after a bit we decided to drive back into the forested area. We drove until it got too dark to see. We saw several more deer, but no elk, but we had tons of fun driving together through beautiful forests so we didn’t mind. We still haven’t given up on the elk. We will try again next year, driving through the area earlier in September while the elk are still in rut.
Searching for elk was part of my birthday. For my birthday gifts, I like going on beautiful autumn drives making memories. My birthday is actually in October (next weekend) while EJ’s birthday is in March. I told him that I would celebrate his birthday by going on adventures, but we agree that March is usually too cold and snowy, and seasonal roads are impassable, so we take turns celebrating our birthdays in the autumn. One week is my birthday and the next is his. Next week we plan to drive along M-119, called the Tunnel of Trees, and the following week we hope to drive along beautiful M-22.
Rosh Hoshanah, or Biblical Feast of Trumpets, began this evening. The Biblical Feasts actually all highlight an aspect of the Yeshua’s (Jesus’) ministry so we enjoy celebrating them even though we are not Jewish. They are beautiful feasts, filled with deep meaning. If you are interested, you can learn more about Rosh Hashanah at this link: Rosh Hashanah
As soon as I had completed my chores this morning, I began making beautiful braided Challah Bread for our feast. Usually, they are rectangular, but for Rosh Hashanah, they are round to symbolize the cycle of another year. It also looks like a crown, for crowning God as king on Rosh Hashana. I filled my Challah bread with diced apples. It was beautiful and yummy.
I also made a meal of the traditional foods, all of which have symbolic meanings: Leek soup, carrots, beets, apples and honey. We had to forego the pomegranates and fish because we couldn’t find them at the store. I blew our shofar. Hannah Joy likes to participate as much as possible in our celebrations.
Here are photos of our meal.
Years ago, I bought a couple little cacti at a store–probably Walmart. They were just tiny little plants in tiny little pots when I bought them, but over the years they have grown taller and taller, and I’ve had to transplant them into bigger and bigger pots. It was time to transplanted the biggest cactus but I didn’t want to buy an expensive pot so last week I researched cheaper alternatives. I searched various stores on-line, looked at Facebook marketplace, considered repurposing something we already had, or buying something less expensive that I could turn into a pot. Then EJ happened to notice that one of the pots in our raised garden was bigger than the current cactus pot and would do nicely. It had held a fruit tree we had bought one year. Yay! We didn’t spend any money at all!
It was not easy to transplant the cactus. I had to loosen the dirt around it and lift it out without breaking the cactus. I did end up breaking off a small piece, but it wasn’t one of the long…uh, whatever you call it: “branch”? I’m surprised I was able to safely move the cacti from our old house to our new house, but we managed it. I used to take the cacti outside in the summer, but they have grown so large and heavy that I don’t try to move it anymore. I don’t know what I will do if they grow as tall as the ceiling. I guess I will worry about that when it happens.
I usually shut the chickens and cats safely in the coop at twilight. The chickens always go into the coop on their own. I just count them to make sure they are all in. Usually, Millie and Theo are either near the coop or they come running when I go out. Annie prefers to stay outside. We have a couple old doghouses in the garden for shelter. I’ll encourage her to go into the coop at night when it gets cooler. One evening Theo was late to the coop, and he didn’t come running when I called, so I shut the chickens and Millie inside. I went out a bit later to see if Theo had returned. He had, so I put him in the coop. EJ was working in his garage, and I saw the lights shining on the sunflowers. I thought it would make an interesting photo, so I took a couple. I used the flash to highlight the sunflowers.
My birthday is in early October. I think the best gifts are memories, which I enjoy sharing with EJ. For my special birthday gift, I always choose a drive through the beautiful autumn countryside with spontaneous stops at interesting places. One year we happened to see a sign for free chair-lifts at a ski resort and was able to enjoy autumn colors from above. For a couple of years, we drove along Lake Michigan on M-22 and also on M-119 through the Tunnel of Trees, both very beautiful scenic drives, especially in the autumn. We’ve also driven up to the Mackinac Bridge, which connects Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas. We love visiting the beautiful bridge. Last year we drove on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive through the beautiful Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes.
It’s always fun to try to figure out where I want to go for my birthday. I considered going this year to Hartwick Pines State Park, an almost 10,000-acre state park that has 49 acres of old growth pine trees. I’ve always wanted to visit there; it’s on my “bucket list.” The drive there and back would be beautiful, although evergreen trees don’t dress themselves in beautiful colors. I asked EJ for other suggestions–did we want to go to Hartwick Pines, revisit our favorite drives, or try something new? EJ suggested we go look for elk at Pigeon River. Pigeon River Country State Forest and Elk Range is the home of the largest free-roaming wild elk herd east of the Mississippi River. The best time to view elk is during the fall breeding season. In September and October, they are feeding in open grassy areas and the bulls, or male elk, are especially vocal. This is the perfect time of year to go looking for elk!
I’m so excited. I’ve seen elk at zoos. I even fought with an elk at a drive-through wildlife park in Ohio years ago. We had bought a bucket of food to feed the wildlife, but shortly after we entered the park, a big elk stuck his head through the window of the car and grabbed the bucket EJ was holding. I was so disappointed that we had no food to give to the rest of the animals. Since the entrance fee was so minimal, we decided to drive through the park again. I said that this time I was going to hold the bucket. I was not going to let an elk steal it. But shortly after we entered the park the second time, the same elk put his head through the car window and grabbed the bucket. I was determined that I would not relinquish the bucket! The elk and I had a brief tug-of-war until EJ pointed to a sign that warned people not to fight with the animals. I suddenly realized that I was fighting with a wild animal that was bigger and stronger than I was so I let go. The elk won–twice! It’s a funny memory that we laugh about. Not everyone can say they fought with an elk. I think I sometimes have rare experiences. For example, I am one of two people who have broken the USS Enterprise–Captain James T. Kirk is the other one–but that’s another story for another day.
Ok, back to my topic: I have never seen an elk in the wild. I think seeing one in the wild is a very different experiencing than seeing one in a zoo or wildlife park. I’m really excited. We tend to go on several adventures in the autumn so Hartwick Pines is not off our list. We might still go to it or we might wait for another season.
EJ has been working especially hard over the last month or so organizing his garage. He is now working on creative projects. I’m so glad to see his creativity coming back. Downstate he worked long hours, often 12-16 hours (or more), seven days a week, for weeks or months at a time. When he did finally get a day off, we often had to work on the house. The long days tired him. He didn’t have the energy to “be creative.” But now here in Northern Michigan, his creativity is returning. I love to see it!
I’ve been busy crocheting. I recently completed an order for apple placemats and coasters and now I’m working on an order for six tiny mice. I’m making all the pieces for all the mice and then I will sew them together. I have a bowl filled with little mice pieces, which sounds rather macabre. But they will be cute when I get them all put together.
Hannah Joy often sleeps on my lap as I crochet. I couldn’t resist taking a couple of photos of her lovably goofy face when she was asleep on my lap. LOL.
Speaking of sleep….Hannah has already gone to bed and it’s time that I head to bed too. Goodnight!
Wow! It’s already the end of another week! This week has gone by very fast!
The weather has gone up and down this week, as it usually does in autumn, with one day very warm t-shirt weather and the next day chilly jacket weather. It rained pretty much every day, although we didn’t get the amount of rain or storms that they did south of us. This morning started out chilly so I wore a sweatshirt, but then it warmed up so I switched to a t-shirt, and now it’s cooling down, so I put on a sweater. Changeable weather is why I usually dress in layers.
Our sunflowers are finally blooming. With our late Spring and planting, I was afraid they wouldn’t have time before the frost came. I planted different kinds so they are different colors and heights. Some are at least 15 feet tall! Sunflowers always make me happy, so I’d like to plant more next year.
Last Sunday one of our customers stopped in to pick up a few dozen eggs. He brought along his almost 90-year-old father. It was fun talking to them both, hearing their stories. I really enjoy meeting my customers–both the egg and crochet customers.
Earlier this week EJ built a sturdy shelf in the coop for the cat dish and their bucket of food (which, like everything else, we store in a kitty litter bucket). With ten chickens, ten chicks, and two cats (three if Annie ever is willing to join them; perhaps this winter), floor space is at a premium. Shelves use wall space without taking up floor space. I put an old plastic chair near the cat shelf so the cats can easily access the shelf. I put the chickens’ food in the corner under the shelf and the water dish under the chair to protect it from straw. The cats immediately leaped onto their shelf. I think they like it.
The cat shelf is above the small animal door. EJ also made a pulley so I can easily open and close the door.
I’ve finished apple placemats and coasters that a friend order from me. I modified a pattern from Star Wisps. EJ stopped at the post office on his way to work Wednesday and mailed it for me. These are both available at my e-store.
We had a couple of errands to run this morning. Well, actually it was almost noon by the time we left. Meijers, a large grocery store something like Walmart, sits on a large property with a lot of vacant land around it. I was looking at the large flock of geese–at least a hundred, maybe two–that were gathering there, probably in preparation for their migratory journey to the south for the winter. I suddenly saw a flash of red color–it was a red-tailed hawk flying low among the geese! I’ve mostly seen hawks flying overhead or sitting in a tree. This is the first time I’ve seen the red-tail so clearly. It was pretty cool!
With the money I made from the apple placemats/coasters, I bought a string of lights to put in the chicken coop from Amazon. I light the coop with Christmas lights in the winter because they are cheap, low wattage, low heat, and we don’t have to install wiring. I had to replace the rope lights I bought last year because I had to plug/unplug them every time I wanted them on/off, and the thin wire attaching the rope to its power source got fatigued and broke.
The new lights arrived this afternoon and I immediately went out to the coop to put them up. I was a little disappointed because I thought I was buying rope lights similar to last year’s, encased in heavy plastic tubing. Instead, these lights were tiny and the wiring very small. But as I hung them in the coop, I decided that I liked them after all, because I could easily twist the wire around nails to keep them taut so the chickens won’t get tangled in them. An advantage of these lights is that they have an on/off switch, as well as a remote, so I won’t fatigue the wiring. I also can make them brighter and dimmer, and there are eight different settings so I can make them flash in different ways. The chickens, cats, and I can have a party if we want. 🙂
I think the Christmas lights make the coop feel festive and friendly. These particular lights are called “fairy lights,” which I think is absolutely appropriate for a coop in an Enchanted Forest.
Fridays have evolved into our errand running day–the day when we go shopping, or pick berries at a u-pick farm, or whatever task takes us from home.
We stopped first at TSC (or Tractor Supply Co., for those who aren’t familiar with the abbreviation) to get another bag of starter feed for the chicks. By the time they finish this second bag, I think they will be old enough to mix with the other chickens and eat the community feed. I had been thinking that I would keep the chicks separate from the other flock for only another week or two, but I read that they shouldn’t be mixed until they have all their feathers and are roughly the same size as the older chickens.
Our second stop was at Meijers or, as our GPS mispronounces it, “meejers.” We had a short shopping list of items we needed. We bought Hannah Joy a bone because she is so well-behaved when we take her for drives. Actually, we bought it for her just because. I gave it to her as soon as we returned to the Xterra. She was so excited that I had trouble getting it unwrapped for her. When I finished unwrapping the bone, she took it happily and began gnawing at it.
I thought the bone would keep her busy while we made one last brief stop at Goodwill to buy EJ a pair of pants for work. It didn’t keep her busy enough. When we returned to the car, we discovered that Hannah had pooped on the back seat. We didn’t scold her because this is the first time she has “gone” where she shouldn’t have. I had taken her outside earlier in the morning, but I don’t think she went poop. Usually, I walk her around a little before we take her for a drive, but it was raining hard enough that all three of us were only interested in running to the Xterra before we got soaked. By the time we reached Goodwill, it was then early afternoon and obviously, she couldn’t hold it anymore.
When we got home, I got Hannah out of the vehicle, walked her around a little, and took her in the house while EJ took care of Hannah’s indiscretion and unloaded the groceries. He usually unloads the groceries while I put them away. That’s when we discovered that while we were in Goodwill, Hannah had gotten into the back and eaten almost a whole loaf of dark rye bread that EJ had bought as a special treat for himself. She had left only four pieces, and one of those had teeth marks in it and had to be tossed.
Hannah was not a particularly “good girl” yesterday and didn’t really deserve her bone but, oh, she loves it! She frequently gnaws at it and even took it to bed with her last night to sleep with instead of one of her balls.
Hannah loves all the toys we give to her. It’s gratifying to see such thankful delight. I had to chuckle last night because she was a bit restless after we went to bed. “What’s the matter?” I asked. “Does your tummy hurt because you ate a loaf of bread?” She didn’t act as if she was in pain. Although she was whimpering, she was also wagging her tail. It went “thump, thump” on the bed, making it difficult for me to fall asleep. Finally, she jumped off the bed. I turned on the light to see if I needed to take her outside but I found her gazing intently under the nightstand. I went to the kitchen to grab a flashlight, wondering how I would handle the situation if there was a mouse under there. In the bedroom, I got on my hands and knees and shone the light under the stand while Hannah stood anxiously beside me. I saw nothing, nothing, nothing….until suddenly the light shone on one of Hannah’s orange balls. Apparently, she couldn’t sleep knowing her ball was out of reach. I used a cane to get the ball out. Hannah was beside herself with happiness. She took both bone and ball to bed with her and slept peacefully for the rest of the night.
After Hannah and I went to bed, EJ went out to the garage. He has been working hard at getting it organized. He has been making a lot of good progress.
EJ cut my hair a couple days ago. He usually cuts his own hair and does a really good job at it. He started cutting my hair a year or two ago to save money. We are trying to pay off our credit cards and are cutting costs where we can. EJ actually does quite well with my hair, but he was a bit concerned this time because I told him that I wanted to go back to having “bangs” (which I think is called “fringe” in the UK). He was afraid of messing it up. but I told him that I was confident he would do a good job, but even if he totally messed up my haircut, I’d simply wear a hat in public until it grew back. So EJ cut my hair, giving me bangs, and I am pleased with it.
Hannah Joy was very interested in the hair-cutting session. She watched us intently and sometimes stood up on the stool that I was standing on so EJ didn’t have to bend down. At times, she got between EJ and me. I’m not sure whether she was trying to protect me from a bad hair-cut or was simply interested. At one point, she stood up at the bathroom counter, looked in the mirror, saw herself, and started growling. It all made me laugh.
Hannah wants to participate in everything we do. She is impossible to overlook or ignore–not that we want to. She brings us a lot of joy. She really is a “good girl.”
The change of seasons is very noticeable now. The nights are getting cooler, the leaves on the trees are beginning to change color, the ferns and other plants on our property are turning brown, and the garden is dying back, although we still have veggies that we can harvest. Now that it’s September, I will quit exclaiming that autumn is arriving much too early! (I suspect that I say that every year.) I can just settle back and enjoy the season.
In late summer/early autumn, Mama turkeys wander across our property with their babies following after them. Sometimes they come very near to our house. It’s always a delight to see them. We’ve seen the flock less frequently this year–no doubt because Hannah Joy barks at them and scares them away.
Hannah Joy barks at other wildlife too. A raccoon frequently comes after dark to eat from the birdfeeder. When Hannah notices it, she rushes the window, barking ferociously. Sometimes she is successful at scaring away the raccoon, but sometimes the raccoon looks at her contemptuously and goes back to eating. Hannah always whines in distress when that happens.
I’d like to teach Hannah not to bark at the wildlife, but I’m not sure exactly how to go about it. I’m not sure if she thinks it’s fun to scare them or if she’s trying to protect us from turkeys, deer, chipmunks, and raccoons. When Hannah barks at the window, we always looking out to see what she is seeing/smelling, but we often see nothing. But a week or so ago, I looked out the window when Hannah barked and saw a grouse jumping up from the ground to eat berries on our bushes. It’s the first time I’ve seen a grouse. That was special.
This morning as I came out of the bedroom after getting dressed for the day, I glanced out the window and spied a strange bird landing on the top of our birdhouse at the edge of the forest. I looked more closely, wondering what it was. Then I realized it was a baby turkey. I wondered, “Why and how did a baby turkey get to the top of the birdhouse?” As I looked around for my camera, it fluttered to the ground, joining its Mama and sibling. I looked around, concerned about what had happened to the other babies in the flock. Then I saw a baby fly down from the trees, and then another, and another. We rarely see turkeys do anything except walk, but they can actually fly. I didn’t know this until after we moved north and I saw them fly once when they were threatened and a couple times when they flew down from the trees in the morning. I’ve never seen babies fly before and I didn’t know they could at that young age.
As soon as I realized the babies were flying down from the trees, I began videoing. It was cool, and not a sight I expect to see often. I think they roost in the trees at the location where they happen to be at twilight. When all her babies were safely on the ground, the Mama came closer to the house. It wasn’t until I happened to see Millie that I realized that Mama was keeping between the cat and her babies. I’m surprised she didn’t attack Millie or warn her babies to get to safety, but it was a very peaceful encounter.
Here’s the video:
I love living in our enchanted forest.
I’m so blue-hoo-hoo,
I’m so blue I don’t know what to do.
Since yesterday, I’ve been humming that children’s Veggie Tales song which, appropriately enough, was sung by Madame Blueberry. Only, if I remember correctly, she was sad because she wanted more stuff. I was happy because I was surrounded by the blue of blueberries.
Yesterday EJ, Hannah Joy, and I took an enjoyable drive along beautiful lakes and through lovely forests and orchards to the blueberry farm I had found online called Bulldog Berries. In answer to my question, the woman who owns the farm along with her husband told me that the farm was named after their dog, who had died last year at 13 years of age. The farm has more than 20 acres of different types of blueberries that ripen at different times, which prolongs their picking season.
We parked the Xterra, leaving windows open for Hannah, and walked with the buckets provided to us to the section of the farm where we were told the latest berries were ripe. The bushes of ripe berries looked a hazy blue color from a distance. We passed a couple of cute Alpacas in a field. The farm reminded me of Farmville, the game I had played on Facebook nine or so years ago.
It was a beautiful day, perfect for picking–with cool temperatures in the high 60s and a nice breeze. We both filled our buckets and then walked back to the stand to have them weighed. I think we each picked about 7 lbs of berries. The cost of picking the berries ourselves is $2.50 a pound, much cheaper than the $3-$4 a pint at the stores.
When we returned home, we froze them. I put a handful of blueberries in our oatmeal this morning. Yummy!
Hannah Joy did her own berry picking this afternoon, eating the raspberries off our bushes that were within reach of her tie-out. She’s funny.
Do you see Hannah Joy in her chair and the cat to the left? The cat is Timmy. Hannah doesn’t like Timmy and will often bark sharply at him and chase him, especially if he gets too close to us. She never actually hurts the cat. I think Hannah is jealous of him. In the photo, Hannah looks like she’s not paying any attention to Timmy, but she is just pretending. In reality, she’s hyper-aware of him. I had told Hannah to “be nice” to Timmy, and she’s sort of sulking. She tries (somewhat) to resist the temptation of barking at him, but she always gives in and turns to bark briefly at him and then turning quickly away as if she didn’t bark at all and is totally innocent–as if we won’t notice or hear her if she does it quickly enough. Hannah is a hoot. LOL.
The baby chicks are growing fast. I’ve been trying to figure out when to allow them to join the general population. I think maybe in another week or two. I’d like them to be big enough that they won’t be at risk from the cats or other predators. The cats get along with the older chickens just fine, but I’m not sure if they’d be tempted with smaller birds. I’d rather be safe than sorry.
We often let Theo and Millie, our outdoor cats, out of the chicken pen now. They enjoy roaming through the garden–and sometimes beyond. We always shut them up in the coop at night. I’m not sure are good hunters, but they are very affectionate cats and we always give them lovings.
Annie is not impressed with Theo and Millie and hisses at them when they get near her. She doesn’t like being in the coop with them but stays in the garden at night. We have shelter for her there. However, but once it gets cold, I’ll make her go in the coop with the others.
EJ says I should stop taking photos of him, but I tell him that he is my muse. I love taking photos of him.
I have been seeing a type of caterpillar that I had never before seen. I think it looks like bits of white, black, and orange yarn twisted together. They become milkweed tussock moths. I wasn’t sure if they were good or bad, but EJ read that they are native and if we have enough milkweed for both them and the Monarchs, we should just let them be.
There are reports that the Northern Lights might put on a show for us this weekend. We are going to go out for a look, but the forecast is for mostly cloudy skies. Because of the Great Lakes, Michigan tends to have a lot of cloudy weather. I think clouds are interesting, but they do sometimes hinder our view of celestial events.
We’ve had some very autumnish days. Tuesday was blustery and there was a lot of rain in Northern Michigan, although most of it missed us until night. Yesterday was so chilly that I didn’t open the windows, as I usually do in the mornings after I’ve fed all the animals. When EJ got out of bed, he exclaimed, “What? The windows aren’t opened?” and he opened them all. But it was so chilly–in the 60s (F)–that over the next hour or two, I quietly closed them one by one. I wore a sweater in the house and a jacket outside. Brrr.
I finished my Kitchen Garden a couple days ago. I’m not concerned about filling the empty boxes with dirt until next Spring (unless I find dirt on sale) since it’s so late in the season. EJ is considering putting up a wooden fence to keep out the deer, although I’ve read that deer don’t like aromatic herbs such as sage, rosemary, basil, mint, or lavender. I think a decorative fence would make the raised beds–made with pallet pieces and wooden boxes–look nicer, although I wouldn’t want anything that blocked the sun or the beautiful view out the window.
Yesterday afternoon I got out the fence post digger, intending to move one of the birdhouses a little closer where it isn’t blocked by a tree. The previous owners left behind an awesome castle birdhouse, fastened to a stump at the edge of the forest, surrounded by thorny berry bushes like Sleeping Beauty’s castle in the fairy tales. I looked for the castle as I considered where to relocate the other birdhouse because I wanted to make sure they weren’t too close. Only….I couldn’t find the castle! I stared in confusion at where it was supposed to be, and it wasn’t there! I didn’t see it on the ground either. It was just gone–poof–as if it had never been. ! I cried out in horror and grief,
Ok, I didn’t really say that. I only thought of that cry just now. But I felt as if sorcery had made the castle vanish, and I would have said it–or at least thought it–if I had thought of it at the time. I pushed my way through the thorny berry bushes like a prince rescuing a princess. Sadly, I found that the stump on which the castle had rested had toppled over and slid a short distance into the ravine, taking the castle with it.
I went into the house and put on my knee-high work boots. Then I went into the garage and found a long length of twine, which had been used to hold a strawbale together. I also got out a straight-edged shovel to help me keep my balance at the edge of the ravine, as well as to use to pry the castle off the stump. Oh, and I grabbed my phone just in case I fell into the ravine and needed to call for help.
I went back through the berry bushes to the fallen castle. I thought about tying the twine around the castle to prevent it from sliding down further and to help me pull it up. However, I couldn’t find a good place on the castle to tie it to, so I didn’t use it. I was able to retrieve pieces of the castle, and then pry the base off with the shovel. I took the pieces to the patio table on the deck. The wood is decayed and I don’t think it can be saved. I am sad. I loved that castle. It added such an enchanting bit of whimsy to our forest. EJ says he can build another, but we have so many tasks that NEED to be done that I don’t think he will have time to build a castle.
I am grieving the loss of my beloved castle. 😥
It’s feeling more and more like autumn, which isn’t really surprising since autumn is getting closer and closer every day. This summer has felt cooler and drier than usual and autumn seemed to arrive early, but I think autumn always feels like it comes earlier than expected,
Friday morning EJ and I went to the Farmer’s Market and bought tomatoes. We had considered trying a different market, just for fun and discovery, but most of those we found on the Internet were opened only one day a week, and the day was not Friday. So we went to our usual “permanent” Market.
When we got home, EJ began the canning process. I offered to help in any way I could, but he wanted to focus on tweaking his process so I left him to it. Over the years, we have developed a relationship in which if one of us has a vision for a project, he/she gets to be the “boss” of the project and the other plays a supporting role, which we call “hero support.” We did this initially with home improvement projects when one of us had a creative vision for a room–sometimes it was EJ and sometimes me–and the other would help bring the vision to life. It has since expanded to other areas. So EJ gets to “head” the canning project and I am his hero support. 🙂
Saturday was our resting day. When we took Hannah Joy out in the early evening, EJ noticed that some of our raspberries were ripe. We have lots of bushes on our property, although the berries are small and usually the birds get to them before we do. EJ picked a few, eating a couple and giving a couple to me to enjoy. I gave one to Hannah. She really liked it. The next morning when I tied her outside, I spied her eating the berries from the bushes she could reach.
I had searched the Internet this summer trying to find u-pick farms to visit. I found a cherry orchard last month, and we had a lot of fun picking 22+ pounds of sweet cherries. I found a blueberry farm only in the last week or two. We intended to visit it this Sunday but we ran into a snafu.
Traverse City has a lot of festivals throughout the year: a chocolate festival, a film festival, the National Cherry Festival, and several others. This Sunday, it held its first-ever Ironman race, in which participants swam in Grand Traverse Bay, and then biked and ran through the city. In total, it was a 70+ mile course. It sounds like it was a fun day and a resounding success.
We usually stay away from the festivals because there are so many thousands of people and so much traffic! The Ironman race was especially “peoply.” Streets were closed off along the race route and, as expected, traffic was a snarl. At least one church even canceled Sunday services because of the expected traffic. I was hoping that we could just avoid the area, but when I checked the race route Sunday morning, I discovered that the route was very close to the u-pick farm we wanted to visit. I messaged the farm to ask if they knew of an alternate route, but I think they weren’t even aware that the race was going to be so close. After I messaged them, they decided to close their business for the day at noon.
I searched on-line for other u-pick farms. The ones I found were either also in the race area, or they didn’t have blueberries, or they were closed on Sunday. I found one not far in the opposite direction. We hopped in the car with Hannah Joy and drove there. The very friendly young man said that they had gotten out of the u-pick business a few years ago. I think they now are mostly a roadside bakery with farm-fresh fruit for sale. We had a really nice chat with him before driving home.
Even though we were unsuccessful in finding a u-pick farm, we enjoyed the drive through miles of beautiful orchards so we didn’t consider the day a waste. It’s getting late in the season so I didn’t know if we’d be able to pick berries this year. However, the first u-pick farm messaged me back: “We have a variety just coming on…so should have some next weekend.” So visiting the farm will be our project next weekend.
The raccoon returned to the feeder last night. It was quite bold, continuing to eat even when we moved around inside the house. When Hannah finally noticed it, she rushed the window and knocked out the screen. I grabbed her and shut the window. When she had calmed down, I opened the window and retrieved the screen. I don’t think it’s damaged. Silly dog. The raccoon ran off when Hannah barked, but a short time later it was back.
I tried to get a photo of the raccoon, but despite fiddling with the settings, the best I could do is a blurry photo. My current camera sucks. It’s the worst camera I’ve ever owned. EJ says we will get me a new camera when we get extra money–but until then I have to struggle with this one. I’d also like to someday get a trail camera with night-time capabilities so I can see what animals are coming onto our property. But again, that’s in the future.
I’m cuddling with Hannah Joy this evening, tired after two days of hard, but satisfying, work.
Yesterday I mowed the lawn. It’s dry enough that our grass has grown slowly so I’ve only had to mow maybe four times this summer. Although the weather was not terribly hot, it was rather humid and I kept melting so I took multiple breaks. I’d go inside and sit in front of my fan for a few minutes until I cooled off. By that time, the washer had finished so I’d take the wet clothes out and hang them on the line. Then I would get back to mowing.
This morning I cleaned out the fridge, throwing out food that had gotten pushed to the back and forgotten. There wasn’t much throw-away food. I also washed the shelves.
Later I began to work on the raised kitchen garden next to the deck in the front yard. It will contain the herbs I use most often: oregano, basil, sage, rosemary, thyme, chives, and maybe parsley. Putting the garden at the front of the house serves two purposes: 1. Currently, I have to go through the entrance hallway, through the garage, and out to the garden to get herbs when I’m cooking. It’s a bit of a trek, relatively speaking, through three doors and a gate. Having a kitchen garden off the deck will make my herbs more accessible. 2. Moving the herbs will free up space in the big garden for more vegetables, such as beans, tomatoes, peas, peppers, and hopefully corn.
To make the kitchen garden, I dragged some pallets to the side of the deck at the front of the house. I stacked one on top of the other, and then I dragged an empty wooden box from the garden and set it up on the pallets. Next, I shoveled dirt from another garden box into the wheelbarrow, pushed it to the kitchen garden, and filled the empty box. Then I went back to the garden and pulled the newly emptied box into the wheelbarrow, pushed it to the kitchen garden, and set it up on the pallets. I filled that box with dirt from another box in the garden. I did this once more until I had three raised garden boxes. The last box I didn’t fill with dirt because I was tired. I did plant the sage and oregano in the two filled boxes. The herbs had not been doing well in the small planters. I thought, hey, they might thrive more in the boxes even though we are running out of summer.
I have to set up three or four more boxes to hold all my herbs, but it’s hard work so I’ll do it little by little. I want to get them set up before winter so they will be ready next Spring. Winter is weeks away, so I’ve got time.
I’m thinking about eventually planting lavender around the perimeter of the kitchen garden because I heard that deer don’t like it.
Hannah Joy watched me through the window as I worked. Can you see her?
When I tired of hauling heavy boxes and dirt, I built a ladder for the chickens so they can reach the topmost platform. I don’t know if I like it. It might be better to just put a board ramp to the top. I’ll see if the chickens use the ladder before I change anything. I was thrilled to see them using the lower platform. I’ve found eggs in it yesterday and today. Millie, our black cat, also likes to lay in it. 🙂
The chicks are growing fast. I see remarkable transformation from day to day. They now have many more feathers. They are in kind of an ugly stage between cute little bits of fluffs and pretty adults. Shhhh. Don’t tell them I said they were ugly. They have cute personalities. They start chirping when they hear me coming, and when I open their door, they rush up to see me. 🙂
EJ doesn’t have to work tomorrow (his regular workweek is 10 hours Monday through Thursday). We plan to go to a Farmers Market for more tomatoes and spend the rest of the day canning them.
Yawn. It’s almost time to shut the chickens and cats safely in their coop for the night. Then I get can my pj’s on and relax until bedtime!
This morning I took EJ out to the chicken coop to look at the roosting/nesting platforms I built yesterday. I described how I had built them while he looked them over. he told me that I had done a very good job–that they looked nice and were very solidly built. I felt very proud of myself.
I haven’t seen any of the chickens on the platforms yet. Impatient, I picked up a hen and put her on the lower platform, hoping she would like it and tell the others. I don’t know yet if she has or will, but chickens are curious birds and I’m sure that eventually they will look at it, especially when the chicks grow up and join the general population.
I opened the door to the second floor of the fancy coop and I was able to get a photo of three of the chicks who had climbed up there. They are getting larger in size and also sprouting more feathers.
Some of our pine trees at the bottom of the driveway have died. EJ suspects pine bark beetles killed them. He’d like to eventually get (I think) Norway Spruce to replace them because the beetles don’t go after them. During a storm a few months ago, the wind caused one of the dead trees to tilt across the driveway. If it fell all the way over, which would happen sooner or later, it would fall across the driveway. We have been discussing how to move it out of the way. EJ couldn’t just pull the tree straight out of the way with the Suburban because he’d have to drive down a rather steep embankment–and I suppose there would be a risk of the tree dropping on the vehicle? We don’t have a chainsaw to cut it up. A chainsaw is on the long list of items that we really could use but can’t afford yet. We finally decided on a plan, and EJ decided to implement it early this afternoon.
EJ hooked a strap around the dead tree and fastened a thick towing wire to it. (I’m not sure what to call it.) He hooked another strap around a living tree further down the valley–the strap was so the living tree wouldn’t get damaged. He ran the wire through the loops up to the Suburban, and then he drove up the driveway. The dead tree was pulled toward the living tree and off the driveway. The eventually straps broke, but EJ got the tree off the driveway far enough that it won’t block us in or out when it eventually falls. I, of course, took a video of the endeavor:
One of my regular egg customers stopped but this afternoon to pick up a few dozen. He has told us that he has a peach orchard and that we can come to pick as many as we want at no cost. He’s going to be gone next week, he said, but we can go pick the following week. I think my regular customers are really nice.
Hannah Joy is still refusing to go through the door onto the porch. It’s just as well because today I saw a couple living yellow jackets going in and out of their nest by the porch steps. EJ has sprayed the crack where they live at least twice, and I have sprayed twice, and they are still alive. They are nasty unkillable thugs.
It’s getting noticeably darker earlier and earlier in the evening. Tonight when I went out to shut the wee beasties in their coop, I heard coyotes howling again. It’s rather a spooky sound.
Look! Look at the photo above! Yesterday I saw the first autumn leaf on the ground. Autumn is getting closer…
Friday’s canning tomatoes and freezing green bean exhausted us so on Saturday EJ and I rested.
Sunday I cleaned the house a bit while EJ was out doing something else. Then we worked together at organizing his garage. Everything from the basement and garage at the old house downstate was put into the garage up here, so organizing it is a long-term project, a marathon job, not a sprint. Plus, we don’t work on it when we have higher priority tasks to do or when it’s freezing in the winter.
Hannah Joy doesn’t like going out through our main entrance because a yellow jacket had stung her last week. They built a nest under a post next to the porch steps. Usually, when I give Hannah a command to go onto the porch, she runs onto it and then waits for her treat, but now she is in such a hurry to get inside the house before the yellow jackets sting her that she ignores the treat. We were trying to figure out the best way to get rid of the nasty buggers, and then yesterday another yellow jacket landed on Hannah’s head. I said, “That’s enough!” and I drove to the store and bought some Raid Hornet and Wasp spray. We waited until dark and then EJ sprayed their lair. He sprayed it again this morning. But Hannah is still scared so this morning she stopped at the kitchen door, refusing to step foot into the entrance hall leading to the porch door. When I put her harness on, she ran to the door leading to the deck instead. Poor baby.
The baby chicks are growing up fast! Every day they are noticeably bigger, and they are getting more feathers. I would try to take photos or videos of them for you, but they try to rush out whenever I open their coop door, and I have my hands full trying to keep them from escaping.
The articles I read on the internet said that the chicks should be kept separated from the older flock until they are 4-6 old–or even 8 weeks. Once we let them join the others they will be able to go outside, so I’d like to keep them contained until they are big enough to not be a predator’s McNuggets.
After EJ left for work this afternoon, I went out to the chicken coop to build platforms. I figure that when the chicks get old enough to mix with the older flock, they will all need more roosting/nesting areas.
The previous owners of our house had left behind a few wooden pallet pieces and EJ brought home discarded pieces from his previous job. We’ve put them all to good use, using many of them as bases for our raised garden beds. I used five pieces today to build platforms for the chickens: two vertical ones to hold up two horizontal ones forming a double layer of platforms. I would have liked the top platform to be a little lower, but I had to work with what I had. Maybe in the future EJ can help me lower it. If nothing else, the cats might enjoy sleeping up there. I nailed thin wooden boards to the fifth pallet piece to be used as a ladder.
I saw Millie rubbing up against a hen this afternoon–you know, as cats do–and the hen ignored her, so it appears they are all co-existing quite well.
I’ve been turning on the outside deck lights at night. With the light on, I can watch the raccoon sneaking up to eat from the bird feeder tray. I’ve been watching a raccoon as I write this post. Hannah Joy is fast asleep on my lap and totally unaware of the raccoon just outside the window. I’m hoping she doesn’t wake up because if she sees the raccoon, she is going to explode with excited barking. Raccoons are very cute and I enjoy watching them–as long as they don’t threaten any of my animals.
I heard coyotes howling in the distance when I went out to shut the animals in the coop for the night.
Oops, Hannah just woke up and noticed the raccoon. Now she’s alert and on guard. I’m quite sure the raccoon won’t be back for a while. Hannah keeps us safe from all threats, real and imagined. The other day she knocked a candle holder off the window sill and then spent the next 10 minutes growling at it. LOL. We sure love our Hannah Joy.
Thursday morning EJ and I drove to the newest farm store. There are multiple farm stores in our area; we shop at three of them because they each have different benefits, including distance to our house, products, and sales. Tractor Supply is closest to us and has the poultry feed we need, as well as fencing, etc. Another store has their own mixes of native flower seeds and wild bird seeds that are better and cheaper than the name brands at the other stores. We’ve also bought large bags of cat food there. The newer farm store occasionally offers good sales. We always try to watch items we need when they are on sale to help us with our costs.
The newest farm store had sales this week on cat, dog, and chicken food, as well as canning jars. It’s far enough away that we usually order the items on their website. When they notify us that our order is ready, we drive to the store to pick it up. It’s easy–we know before we get there that everything we need is available. We just pull up to their drive-through area, they bring us our items, and we load up and leave.
When we arrived home, EJ unloaded everything while I went in and fixed us lunch.
As soon as EJ was awake and ready on Friday morning (he works second shift so sleeps later than I do), we drove to the local farmers market where we bought a box of tomatoes and a bushel of green beans.
EJ was in charge of canning because he remembers his Mom doing it, and so he has a bit more knowledge about the process than I do. Even so, he’s never done it himself so he has been studying the “how to’s” all week in preparation for this day. It takes concentration to learn a new skill so I left him to it. I figured that once he has perfected the technique, he can teach me and we can work together. It was a lot of work, and there are things he will do differently next time, but all his cans sealed so I considered it a success!
Meanwhile, I set up a small folding table in an out of the way spot in the kitchen, and worked on the green beans, snapping off the ends and breaking them in two. It took me hours and hours to process the beans, then I had to blanch them, and then put them in bags to freeze. I didn’t finish all my work until late. EJ wanted enough beans to last until next year, but I might have bought a wee bit too many. We were concerned that our freezer wouldn’t hold them all, but I said, “where there’s a will, there’s a way!” and I got them all to fit.
I had to chuckle because we each happened to wear shirts that matched our tasks. EJ wore red for tomatoes and I wore green for beans. LOL.
Hannah Joy mostly lay at our feet, but now and then she stood near me and intently watched me as I worked as if she was trying to figure out what I was doing.
We had success and got a lot of accomplished. Yay! But we were exhausted when we finished, and EJ’s back is out this morning. 😦 At least he has two days to deal with his back until he returns to another week of work.
I’ve started turning on the outside light that overlooks the deck at night, and I’ve been observing a raccoon climbing the bird feeder post and eating the sunflower seeds that I put out for the birds. One evening I saw at least three raccoons. The raccoon returned last night as well, as we were relaxing from our day’s work. He was quite bold and didn’t scare easily as we moved away. Raccoons could be a threat to our chickens or garden, but as long as they aren’t troublesome, I enjoy watching them. I think they are quite cute.