A Pursuit of Peace

So, I am just going to briefly state that the last week has been a bit difficult. I got triggered by a brief encounter with an abusive relative. Being triggered feels like being caught up in an emotional tsunami, pounded, drowning, not knowing which way is up or down. Eventually, I battle my way out of it, but I feel exhausted and weak afterward. I do think that as time goes by without frequent encounters with abusive people, the emotional tsunamis are not as deep or long-lasting, but it’s still difficult while it lasts.

Our goal for 2020 was to pursue quiet, peace, and recovery. Well, this year has not exactly gone to plan–not for us and not for anyone. I think many are feeling stressed and easily triggered because of world events. Ugh. I think all we can do is forgive ourselves and each other when we find ourselves struggling, and help each other up when we can. I know I have an awesome husband and some tremendous friends who help me when I needed it.

And we have Hannah Joy. She is funny, loving, and cuddly and a big help when we are stressed. We do, however, suspect that she also struggles with PTSD. Her previous home was abusive, and she tends to be hypersensitive to any sudden noise. Even the slight noise of setting a cup down on the counter or EJ putting the footstool down on his recliner can cause her to leap up, alert and barking. We calm her down. We sometimes laugh at ourselves about what a “right fine mess we are.” We called Hannah Joy our (untrained and unofficial) service dog and declare that we are her service humans. 

Despite what’s happening in the chaotic world and our infrequent emotional tsunamis, we are doing well. We are still pursuing recovery and enjoying the quiet of our Enchanted Forest.

We’ve had at least two weeks of sunny, humid weather with temperatures in the low 90s. We’ve had to water our gardens every morning. It did finally rain all day yesterday, which was nice. It’s sunny again today. The next chance for rain is Tuesday.

Theo in EJ’s garden.

EJ’s garden is growing wonderfully. I think it was last week that he built a temporary structure to try to shade his Bok Choi, which tends to “bolt” in the hot sunlight. I think it adds an interesting feature in his garden. You can see it in the photo at the top of this post.

Our flower garden has roses, hollyhocks, coneflowers, and bergamot growing in it. But most it has milkweed, which has profusely planted itself in my garden since last year. We encourage it to grow on our property because it attracts bees and monarch butterflies. I’ve enjoyed playing a “hidden pictures” game, trying to find the monarch caterpillars crawling on the milkweed. There are so many bees that I have no trouble finding them.

Handheld bug zapper

In addition to the “hidden pictures caterpillar” game, we’ve played a game called “hunt the pesky moths.” We have been plagued with little moths that have found a food source in the pantry. We tried to eliminate any suspected source but we still have adult moths flying about the pantry and hallway.  We use our handheld bug zappers to hunt them down and kill them. It adds an element of fun to an annoying problem. We are finding fewer of the months so I think we are winning the game.

My welcome sign being repainting

The welcome sign I made a couple years ago has become weatherbeaten so EJ carried it up the driveway to the porch for me so I could repaint it. There’s no rush to get it done, so I’m only working on it for short times in the mornings before it gets too hot outside.

My herb garden

Last weekend one of my regular customers stopped in to buy more eggs. He has just moved into a new house and he told me that it has a large garden. I told him that EJ has his vegetable garden in the back yard while my herb garden is here in the front yard. He asked what herbs I was growing, and as I pointed at them and named him, he said, “Wow! You have them all!” and then he asked me what I did with them. I told him that I cook with fresh herbs in the summer but dry some of them for winter use. He asked if I sold my herbs, and I said, “Noooo, but I could sell him a few later [when they’ve grown more] if he wanted some.” He said he would like that.

That conversation sort of restarted EJ and me thinking about sideline businesses we could start. Like, maybe we can grow more herbs and sell them. We don’t have a HUGE garden, but maybe we could sell a few of our extra veggies. We’ve talked a few months ago about starting a worm farm and we wouldn’t mind someday learning about beekeeping. And, of course, there’s my crocheting. There are all these little projects we could start to bring us in a little extra money. This is going to be an ongoing topic of discussion and planning.

EJ did some grocery shopping this morning; he’s our designated shopper Now he’s been grilling steaks. It’s almost done….

Truckin’

Reddish-pink Rainbow

Last week was quite a peaceful week. Earlier in the week, we had a bit of rain. One evening–Tuesday? Wednesday?–I looked out the window and saw a beam of light shooting up. I thought, “What is THAT?” and then I realized that it was a rainbow, but it was more reddish-pink than multi-colored.

Thursday evening Little Bear caught another mouse in the kitchen and Hannah Joy stole it and ate it. That was the second one in a week. She must think mice are a tasty evening snack, but it grosses me out when she eats them. Yuck.

Beautiful days in our Enchanted Forest

Friday we were supposed to get some severe storms with large hail, wind, and possibly a tornado, but the storms all slid south of us. Instead, we have had beautiful weather–with just the right amount of warmth and coolness with a slight breeze. The weather is supposed to continue to be sunny all this week, as well as hot. With no rain in the forecast, we’ve had to water our gardens in the mornings. First one of us waters their garden, and then the other waters theirs, depending on who wakes up first.

Chipmunk on the rock.

I’ve put several bowls of water around the yard–for the outside cats and for any other thirsty wildlife. The chipmunk(s) love the one I set out on the large rocks.

My herb garden is growing well. It’s so nice to look out the window and everything growing. I like having the herbs at the front of the house. When I want to use any for cooking, I just step out the door and there they are!

EJ works in his garden most mornings. He bought some turnip seeds and planted them this weekend. He said that he had thought he had already planted turnips, but apparently the same wizard that transformed my rosemary into lavender plants on the way home from the store had also transformed his turnips seeds into bok choy. He likes bok choy but didn’t think he had planted so much.

Our Salad Bar

EJ’s garden is growing fabulously. I go out each day and pick lettuce for lunch from the old hot tub that we turned into a raised garden bed–I call it our “salad bar.” We have a variety of different kinds of lettuce, which we carefully labeled on cute little signs, but heavy rain washed away the writing so I have no idea what I am picking. But it’s all very tasty.

Sunday was forecasted to be the least hot day of the week so I did laundry and hung it on the clothesline. Then I mowed the lawn. I mowed the back half in the morning because it was in shade. I stopped when it grew hotter and mowed the front half in the evening when it was shaded and cooler.

My sign.

EJ carried the welcome sign I had made a couple of years ago. My sign had become weathered and needs repainting. It welcomes loving friends, nice neighbors, amazing delivery people, and elves, hobbits, and dwarves, but tells political, religious, and salespeople, as well as ogres, orcs, and goblins to stop and turn around. I am a Christian, but our home is isolated and we would prefer not to have uninvited strangers of any kind come up the driveway, especially since I am alone in the afternoons/evenings. Late in the afternoon, a stranger car drove up the driveway, paused, turned around, and went back down the driveway. EJ exclaimed, “Your sign has only been down for a few hours and already strangers are driving up the driveway!” I have to get it painted and back down there ASAP!

Backtracking a few days…Friday morning EJ left in the morning to do some shopping. He was planning to go to a farm store first to get some seeds for the wild birds and a big box of dog treats for Hannah Joy. Next, he was going to stop at Goodwill, and then he was going to do some grocery shopping at Meijers. He came home much earlier than I thought he would. He said that after he left the farm store, the brakes on the Suburban failed. He made it all the way home with no brakes. he’s an excellent driver and knows how to handle things like this…but Yikes!

After he recovered, EJ decided to take the Xterra to do a little bit of shopping at the grocery store that it just a couple of miles away rather than go all the way to Meijers. When he returned he said that on the way home, the Xterra’s brakes failed. Double Yikes! He got under both vehicles this weekend to check them out. He couldn’t figure out why the Xterra’s brakes failed, but he ordered brake parts for the Suburban. They will arrive on Thursday.

But meanwhile, we had no transportation and we had to figure out what to do about our vehicle situation. EJ looked on FB Marketplace for used cars for sale and he found a couple that looked promising, but they were too far away for us to drive. We needed something very close. He finally got on the website of a nearby dealership and found a used pickup truck that looked good at a not too terrible price. Since we didn’t have other transportation, this morning he carefully and skillfully drove the Suburban to the dealership–while I prayed and prayed for his safe arrival–and he bought the pickup.

The tow truck driving away after delivering the Sub.

EJ said that the dealership’s estimate for fixing the Suburban’s brakes was too expensive (and, besides, he already ordered parts to fix it himself). He originally was going to drive me back to the dealership and have me drive the new truck home while he drove the Suburban, but I insisted that he arrange to have a tow truck bring the Suburban home because I didn’t want him driving a brakeless vehicle more than he already had. It just wasn’t worth it. So he called a towing place and made arrangements. He took Hannah Joy and me with him to drop the Suburban’s keys off to them and then we went home to wait for the tow truck to bring the Suburban home.

The new truck is nice. We really have wanted a pickup so that we can bring home poultry feed, fencing, posts, or whatever we need to haul. The truck is 4-wheel-drive and has a back seat for Hannah Joy.  The back seat windows push out from the side so she won’t ever be able to jump out. Her seatbelt is attached to the buckle in the back seat, but she always stretches forward as far as she can so she can sit between the seats. She likes to be as close as possible to us. She loves, loves, loves to go driving with us. Whenever she knows we are going somewhere, she becomes very excited and stays close to us so we won’t leave her behind. So we take her with us as often as we can.

How Does Our Garden Grow?

The new arrangement

Hannah Joy is totally enjoying the new living room arrangement. The recliner was less accessible and more crowded with both of us sitting in it, and she had been very vocal about her complaints. But now that I’ve moved the couch next to my computer, she can stretch out while cuddling–and I like that she doesn’t kick me in the stomach every time she leaps off to check out a noise, smell, or sight. Now her only complaint is when I stop petting her. Here is a slideshow of photos of her enjoying her cuddles.

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Sunday I went with EJ to a farm store–one that we rarely go to–because EJ was searching for fertilizer to put on his corn. We were going to leave Hannah Joy home because we didn’t want to leave her shut up in the Xterra on a hot day while we were in the store. However, she pleaded so much that we gave in and took her along. She hates being parted from us. I stayed with her–with the windows down–while EJ went into the store. But first, EJ and I walked to the plants that the store had outside, not far from our vehicle. I put in the cart sweet mint, spearmint, two oregano, and two rosemary plants–all plants that weren’t growing well (or at all) in my garden. EJ put in a few plants too–I think he bought thyme but I don’t know what else. Then I went back to the vehicle while EJ went into the store. He was unsuccessful at finding the fertilizer he needed, but we did get the plants so the trip wasn’t fruitless.

My herb garden

When we returned home, EJ went out back to work in his garden (pictured at the top of this post) while I eagerly carried my new plants to the herb garden. It was then that I discovered that on the way home, the rosemary plants had magically changed into lavender plants. Ok, that’s probably not exactly what happened. I probably accidentally grabbed lavender instead of rosemary plants at the store. Although I love lavender, I was a bit disappointed because I had really wanted rosemary since my seeds hadn’t sprouted at all. I use fresh herbs during the summer but also dehydrate some for winter use. I have to laugh because a couple of months ago, EJ rearranged my herb jars so four of them were in the order of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme like in the song Scarborough Fair.

Scarlet Tanager

At twilight on Sunday evening, we saw a Mama deer trot past the house with her two fawns. They were tiny and very adorable. I didn’t get a photo of the deer, but I did get a few of the beautiful scarlet tanager that I saw in the trees on Saturday morning. I love living here in our very Enchanted Forest.

Later Sunday evening, Hannah Joy suddenly leaped with a sharp bark off the couch, ran into the kitchen, and caught a mouse that Little Bear had been watching. Then Hannah ate it. Yuck. Dogs are sometimes gross. Hannah is a better mouser than our indoor cats although our outdoor cats have been successful at killing rodents.

I knew that it was going to begin raining on Monday afternoon so I went out during the morning and mowed the lawn. I got most of it done before the first sprinkles started to fall and I had to stop. I only didn’t get the little bit on the other side of the garage, around the propane tank and underneath the clothesline. I can do that when it stops raining–or even wait until the next time I mow the lawn. I have felt a bit out-of-sorts over the last couple of days. I would blame the rainy days except rainy days tend to make me feel cozy. I suspect the real reason I am out-of-sorts is because I haven’t been sleeping well and I am more tired than usual.

Pathetic Hannah Joy wanting inside.

Once it started raining, it rained and rained. Hannah didn’t want to go out in the rain. When I tried to put her out, she just gave me a pathetic look so I brought her back inside, knowing that she’d probably wake me in the night to go outside. Which, of course, she did. EJ had just gotten home from work and he was still awake so he came outside with Hannah Joy and me. He said he encountered a bit of flooding on his way home.

 

Muddy chicken pen

We’ve had so much rain that the chicken pen is very muddy so last night I carried Theo and Mille into the coop and I carried them out again this morning so they didn’t get their fur muddy. I would have left them in the coop but they need to have access to their food. In the morning I always carry their food dish into the doghouse in the garden. If I leave it in the coop, the chickens eat it. The cats have plenty of shelter from the rain.

On his way to work yesterday afternoon, EJ stopped at another store for the fertilizer he wants. They didn’t have it either but he did buy me two rosemary plants. YAY! Even though it’s still raining today, I got the rosemary plants from the Xterra this morning and planted them in the herb garden. My mistake at the store turned out well because I ended up with both lavender AND rosemary plants.

roses in raindrops.

It has rained steadily all day today. Sometimes it rained sideways in huge waves, which is always interesting to see. I saw the roses in our flower garden covered in jewel-like raindrops. It was so pretty that I took photos.

We actually have a lot of milkweeds that have planted themselves in our flower garden. We almost now have more milkweed than anything else, but I’m not taking them out because the Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on them. So now I’m calling our flower garden “the butterfly garden.” I’m pretending I planned it this way.

The flower/butterfly garden

Because of Hannah Joy

I am really tired tonight…because of Hannah Joy.

Hannah loved to sleep on the footstool of my recliner with her front on my lap and her behind on the footstool. However, she broke the footstool a few months ago because she kept leaping off it to check out various sights, noises, and smells, and then leaping back on it. I’ve been using an ottoman instead, but Hannah Joy doesn’t like it very much and she’s been grumbling about how difficult it is to climb into my lap.

I contemplated moving to the couch so she could sit next to me, but I have to keep my laptop on a table because Hannah Joy knocked it on the floor a few times and now the monitor part won’t stay up unless I have it leaning against the wall.

So I thought about getting a loveseat so I could keep my computer where it is and Hannah could sit next to me. I checked out Facebook Marketplace for a used loveseat and I contemplated buying one from Habitat for Humanity. Because we have animals, we always buy used furniture so we don’t have to worry about them ruining it. I found a couple possibilities at FB, but then we had to worry about whether or not we could fit a loveseat in the Xterra. So finally we decided to stick with the furniture we have. It’s cheaper that way, and we really need to save our money for other necessities.

I spent all afternoon rearranging the living room. I moved our two recliners where the couch used to be, and I moved the couch where the recliners used to be. It sounds like a simple job, but it wasn’t because I also had to move end tables, the bench I use as a coffee table/footstool, and assorted other things and I had to dust, sweep, and vacuum.

But now my new spot is on the couch near my laptop. Hannah Joy is enjoying the couch. Sometimes she lays at the far end, sometimes she cuddles next to me with her head on my lap. And she will no longer kick me in the stomach as she launches off my lap to check out a sight, noise, or smell. Hannah Joy has also discovered she can sit on the bench/coffee table for a better look out of the window.

I am very, very tired.
I worked hard today.
Because of Hannah Joy.

An Evening View

I’m drowsily sitting here on an early evening enjoying a glass of iced tea while I enjoy the view out the window. I’m watching the bluebirds feeding their young in the birdhouse, various birds visiting the feeders, and occasionally Theo or Millie saunter by. Ahhhh! This is the life!

EJ spent most of the weekend weeding his garden beds. His garden is really growing nicely. I didn’t think my herb garden would be much of a success this year, but it looks as if some of my herbs are actually growing–sage, thyme, basil, chives, dill, and probably oregano and cilantro. I’m not seeing any mint, lemon balm, rosemary, or lavender yet but I am still hopeful. Gardens are all about planting seeds and hoping.

We have a raccoon who visits our birdfeeders almost every evening. Usually, he (or she?) arrives after dark when we can’t see him. We know when he has visited because the next morning the tray feeder is cattywampus. Once in awhile the raccoon visits before it gets dark and we get to enjoy watching him. He visited before dark one day this last weekend. When he first arrived, Theo chased him off but it wasn’t long before he returned. I was able to video him during his second visit. At first, he kept looking off to the right so I’m pretty sure there was a cat there making him nervous but he finally climbed the post. You can tell when Hannah Joy saw the raccoon because she started to bark and whine. The coon wasn’t at all nervous about Hannah Joy. He must have known she was in the house and couldn’t get to him? Not long after I stopped videoing, both Theo and Millie began stalking the coon. Silly cats. Although so far the raccoon has run away from them, I don’t think the cats would stand a chance if the he decided to defend himself. We didn’t want to risk Theo or Millie getting hurt so we went outside. The raccoon scurried under the deck and EJ and I picked up the cats and carried them into the coop for the night to keep them safe and out of trouble.

Yesterday Hannah Joy was not such a good girl. She was beginning to eat a butter box (which the four sticks of butter come in) before I saw her and took it away from her. Then she got into the pockets of my sweater, which I had hanging in the bathroom, and ate the Kleenexes. Then she knocked over the tin that holds her very special treats, spilling some of them on the counter and floor. I was able to rescue all of them except the ones on the floor. She ate them.  Even though Hannah Joy isn’t always a “good girl,” she is an adorkable girl whom we love very much. Her quirks are what make her preciously unique.

Our neighbor’s building

This morning as I was starting my chores, I saw a rabbit up near the big rocks. Usually, we’ve seen them at the bottom of the driveway, not up near the house, but I suspect that all the building activity next door might be causing them to relocate. At least most of the construction noise has decreased. Just for you, I took a photo of the only place on our property where we can see the building through the trees. It’s at the bottom of our driveway. We can’t see it on our hill. The tall part at the right looks to be a garage. I’m not sure if the other part is a house or a workshop. It’s kind of fun trying to guess what the building is from the brief glimpse we have as we walk to the mailbox.

My vacuum cleaner hasn’t been working very well for several months. Maybe several months times two or three. We have limped along with a sucky vacuum, as best we could. We tried buying a used vacuum at Habitat for Humanity a while back, but that didn’t work so well either. then the coronavirus hit and we were in Lockdown so that stopped our looking for used vacuums. A couple of weeks ago we resumed looking and we found a local man on Facebook Marketplace who fixes vacuums, but when I asked a few times where he lived so we could drop it off and he didn’t tell us, we said, screw that. We aren’t going to drop off a vacuum cleaner unless we know where to pick it up at. Most things, of course, we exchange in a public place but there are some items/services that we really need to be able to pick up at the person’s house/business. If I ask a couple times for an address and a person doesn’t give it, I move on and keep looking.

ANYWAY, a couple of days ago I finally told EJ that we need to have a vacuum that actually works so we got online and ordered a new one from Bissell. We have never had a Bissell before but we chose this vacuum because it wasn’t terribly expensive and a beautiful dog was sitting next to the vacuum on the website. Ok, we might have ordered the vacuum even if it wasn’t pictured with a dog, but the dog definitely helped us choose. LOL. The vacuum arrived today. We had to walk down our long winding driveway to get it from the Magic Box, which is where delivery people put our items. We have a sled to carry deliveries up the driveway in the winter, but I told EJ that we really need to get a wagon to pull large items up in the summer. It’s very awkward carrying up unwieldy boxes.

Once we got the vacuum in the house and out of the box, EJ and I took turns vacuuming the few rugs we have and the carpet in the bedrooms. When EJ took his turn, he said, “Wow! This vacuum really SUCKS!” He meant that in a good way, not a bad way. Vacuums are supposed to suck, but not suck.

 

June Days

The world is going crazy, but our little Enchanted Forest is still gentle and peaceful.

Mostly. The building is still going on at our neighbors but it’s not terribly noisy. I thought at first they were building a house, but now it looks to me more like a huge outbuilding. Is it for their “toys”? A business? I don’t know. I don’t spy on them–I’ve never been a “spy on the neighbors” type of person–but I can glimpse the building through a gap in the trees when I walk down to get the mail and I can’t help but be curious. I’m hoping they won’t be loud neighbors who scare away the wildlife.

A rainbow in the sky yesterday.

We had some hot sweltering weather with temperatures reaching into the high 80s and low 90s. But Tuesday night storm rolled in with rain and high winds, which knocked out our Internet all day yesterday. It was a little difficult not to be able to communicate with friends or know what was happening in the world. I told EJ that for all we knew, we could be the only two people left on the planet. How ever did we manage to survive before the Internet??

Without an Internet connection, I mowed the lawn. We only have a push mower and I get overheated so I have to take several breaks in front of the fan to cool off. I got most of it finished before ore rain rolled in and I had to stop. About 7:30 pm, I went out to finish the rest of it. I had to rush to finish before it rained again. It was sprinkling harder and harder as I finished the last of it.

I put the mower back in the garage and shut the door. Both Theo and Millie, our outdoor cats were in the garage put them out. I felt bad because it was raining harder, so I called them into the coop. The chickens were all in so I thought I could shut them in early for the night–appealing since radar showed a lot more rain coming our way. However,  before I could shut the doors, several chickens went outside. Some came back in but more went out so I finally gave up, but then I discovered that I had left the gate open and a rooster and three hens were in the garden. It’s difficult to herd chickens, but I finally got them all on their side of the fence. By that time, it was raining harder and I was drenched. I ran into the house and changed my clothes. Later, at the regular time, I went out to the coop and shut everyone in. At twilight, the chickens all go in and quietly roost. It’s only difficult when I try to get them in the coop before they are ready to go.

While I was out mowing the lawn, I got bitten by something–biting flies, I think. I have a big boil-sized bite under my right eye, and my ears are swollen and itchy. The itching is very annoying, to say the least, even when I put lotion on them. Stupid bugs.

Millie and Theo have been earning their keep. I’ve seen Millie with a couple little snakes, as I’ve written in previous posts. Theo tends to go after rodents. I’ve seen him with mice and chipmunks. The other day I saw him run past the front of the house with a chipmunk. He usually takes his kills to the wooden dog house in the garden, but I didn’t see any dead bodies when I went out to the garden a few minutes later. When I went out to gather eggs an hour or so later, he came running up with a chipmunk in his mouth…the same one? He dropped it near the chicken pen fence and it scurried around and ran up on top of Millie, who was sitting there. Then it must have realized it was on a CAT because it leaped down and ran into the chicken pen. Chickens go after rodents so I expected a brouhaha, but they didn’t see the chipmunk. It must have run under the coop and escaped.

 

My herb garden. The photo at the top of this post is EJ’s veggie garden.

EJ’s vegetable garden is growing very well. I feel as if my herb garden is growing mostly weeds. I always by herb plants, but this year I bought seeds because of the Lockdowns. I don’t do so well with seeds. My chives came back from last year, and the basil is doing well and dill seems to be doing well but other than that, not so good. Eric was able to find thyme and parsley plants at the store, but nothing else. I’m hoping that everything else is just slow-growing, but I’m not holding my breath.

The storms brought in cooler weather. The high was 72 degrees today with a nice cool breeze. The high temperatures for the next several days will range from the high 50s to low 70s and the low temps will be in the 40s. I told EJ that I wouldn’t mind if the weather stayed like this forever.

 

The Snake Hunter

A lot of crazy things happening in our country–and the world–these days. I’m researching, reflecting, sharing, and writing about them on my Facebook and Twitter pages. But not here. I think all of us–or at least many of us–need a quiet place to withdraw to. to relax at, and just to enjoy. So in this blog, I’m just writing about the quiet, gentle aspects of my life.

Michigan’s weather can be changeable, and it has certainly been changeable lately. Last weekend and earlier this week, we had very hot, humid weather. The temperature even reached into the upper 80s on some days! I felt drained by the heat and outdoor tasks quickly overheated me. One morning I chatted on FB with a friend from Australia. It was morning for me, evening for her; early summer for me, early winter for her.  She asked how I was, and I told her that it was super hot and I was melting. “How hot is it?” I checked. “Uhm,” I replied, squirming in embarrassment. “It’s 64 degrees (F), which is 17 degrees (C) for you.” She laughed. Ok, no one can say that 64 degrees is scorching hot. “But it’s HUMID,” I explained. “And I think I must have snowman DNA.”

Our rain gauge

In the middle of the week, we had rain, rain, rain. EJ came home from work early one evening because he wasn’t feeling well. He read that we could get bad thunderstorms with heavy rain, strong wind, and hail that evening, so even though he wasn’t feeling well, he went out and covered all his garden plants. I lugged in the houseplants that I had taken to the deck for the summer. We didn’t get a storm, but I don’t think it was as bad as predicted. However, I think some areas got 2-3 inches of rain. Our rain gauge said we got about 1 1/2 inches.

There are frost/freeze warnings out for tonight and tomorrow night. So in one week the weather in Michigan has gone from hot and humid, to rainy, and now to freezing cold.

Millie’s Snake

We adopted our cats Theo and Millie from the Michigan Barn Cat Program, which finds homes for cats that prefer living outside rather than inside. Theo and Millie have a nice safe, comfy home in the large coop. We shut them safely in the coop with the chickens at night, and they are free to wander outside during the day. Theo and Millie are earning their keep–they are killing rodents such as mice, moles, and chipmunks. Theo especially enjoys going after the mice. Often he is hunting them when I go out in the evenings to put everyone in the coop. Millie apparently prefers to go after snakes. A little earlier today I saw her running across the front yard carrying a snake. She took it around the house. This was the second snake I’ve seen her catch. I actually never imagined cats would hunt snakes.  I sort of prefer that she wouldn’t go after snakes, but….? I think Michigan has only one venomous snake which isn’t common. And at least Millie is not going after songbirds.

I was able to video Millie running with her snake, but she was fast and in a few seconds she was around the house.

 

Memorial Day Weekend

It is Memorial Day today in the USA, a day when we remember those who have given their lives in defense of our country. This Memorial feels deeply meaningful to me this year.

Yesterday started out cloudy, but the clouds cleared away and it was a beautiful day.  This morning started out sunny, but then big fluffy clouds rolled in–sometimes they were fluffy white, sometimes they were fluffy dark, and sometimes the sky was a cloudless blue. We had a period of heavy rain in the afternoon, and I think more rain could come in. Maybe a storm or two. It’s really hot and humid today. If feels as if we jumped from cool Spring right into hot August. I alternated working outside with coming in to cool down in front of the fan.

I planted sunflowers along the fence around the chicken area.

Last year I planted sunflowers. In the autumn, I cut off their heads and hung them from the curtain rods in the kitchen to dry. A couple days ago, I took them down and removed the seeds from the heads. Yesterday I planted the seeds. I wasn’t sure where to plant them, but after some thought I decided to put them outside the fence around the chicken area. I tried to plant them close enough to the fence for the sunflowers to lean on when they grow bigger, but far enough away that the chickens couldn’t poke their heads through the fence and eat them.

The posts mark now mark the elderberry bushes.

I was afraid that I had accidentally mowed some of the elderberry bushes we had planted. I had tried to be careful but some of the bushes were very small and I couldn’t see them. I suggested to Eric that maybe we could dig up the roots and plant them somewhere where they weren’t in danger of being mowed. We went out to dig them up, but we actually found all five of them growing. Some were tiny but, hey, they had growth. So we left them and EJ pounded in wooden stakes to mark where they are.

Earlier in the spring our Governor banned plant nurseries so we bought some of our seeds online. Individual packets were out of stock, but we got packages with several different kinds of seeds in them. One of the packages had several different types of salad greens. Many of them were types that I had never before heard of so I think it will be fun to try them. They were Buttercrunch Lettuce, Red Oakleaf Lettuce, Bibb Lettuce, Prizehead Lettuce, Iceberg lettuce, Parris Island Romaine, Noble Giant Spinach, and Dwarf Siberian Kale. They sound interesting, don’t they?

EJ planting salad greens in the hot tub.

EJ planted the salad greens in the old hot tub. The broken hot tub had been left behind by the previous owners. We didn’t know how to get rid of it, so EJ dragged it to the back yard, filled it with dirt, and it became one of our raised garden beds.

This morning EJ went to the Forbidden Zone (meaning the stores). He got some bags of garden dirt at Meijers but they didn’t have seeds–and neither did the nursery. He got a couple plants at the nursery. I think he spent less than $2.

While Eric was gone, I put the thingy that holds our garden hose in the ground so I could keep things tidy–and so we would be less likely to trip over the hose.

After lunch EJ went out to plant some corn. I went out to help him because I knew it was going to rain soon. It started to rain as we planted. I planted all my corn and then ran in the house to close the windows. It rained harder and harder as Eric covered up the corn. He was soaked by the time he finished. Before he could change into dry clothes, the rain stopped.

Millie and Theo, our barn cats

One of the raised garden beds didn’t yet have any dirt in it. I asked EJ what he was planning to plant in it. He pointed to the box and said….Cats. LOL. The cats have been hunting rodents. I’ve found several dead bodies of mice, chipmunks, and moles. It’s good that the cats kill them because I’ve read that mice will even eat the toes off the chickens when they sleep at night. Yuck!

One of my lilac bushes

 

The lilacs are now beginning to bloom. We had a beautiful lilac bush at our old house and I was sad at the thought of not having any lilacs to enjoy at our new house. But I was so surprised when  I discovered that we had FOUR lilac bushes of three different colors growing on our property. So that is another thing I have so much better at our new house. I called it our “new house” but on June 1st we will have lived here FIVE YEARS already! It went by really fast. We are so happy here.

Hannah Joy always gets on the bed in the morning while I take my shower. She likes to get under the blankets. If I make the bed before my shower, she burrows under the blankets and messes it all up so I usually make the bed later. This was Hannah Joy this morning. She is so very loved and spoiled.

Hannah Joy: This is the life.

 

Spring Green

Spring–or maybe Summer?–has sprung all at once. A week ago the trees were all mostly bare but we’ve had really warm weather (temperatures in the high 70s) and suddenly everything is green. It’s amazing!

I’ve got most of my herb garden planted and EJ is working on planting the vegetable garden in the back yard. He hopes to finish planting in the next day or two.

Yesterday I washed clothes and hung them out on the clothesline. It was nice, although with our neighbor’s house being built just over the hill, it wasn’t quite as quiet as it usually is. I will be glad when the house is finished, although I hope, hope, hope our neighbors will be quiet. EJ says he doubts they will, since the man enjoys working on performance vehicles which has loud motors. Sigh. I’ve gotten a bit spoiled by them only visiting their small vacation house a few times during the summer months.

Yesterday I also mowed the lawn for the first time this year. I had trouble getting the mower started, as I always do the first time I use it since last year. But EJ was able to easily get it started for me. We have five acres, but most of it is forested so I only mow up around the house. That’s still more mowing than we had to do downstate, but I don’t mind it. I love the way the lawn looks when it is freshly mowed.

The warm weather made me hungry for potato salad so I made some yesterday afternoon. We had beef brats and potato salad for lunch today. Yum.

Last fall I cut off the heads of the sunflowers and hung them at the windows in the kitchen. Yesterday I took them down and de-seeded them. I was going to plant them the same day, but I was tired from everything else I did so I decided to wait.

As soon as I get out of bed, I feed hungry Hannah Joy, then I feed the cats. For the outside cats, I put a bowl of food on the front porch and one in an old doghouse in the back yard garden. Then I fill the water dishes with fresh water, open the coop to let the chickens and cats out, and refill the chickens’ feeder. Next I fill the wild bird feeder near the deck. If Hannah Joy needs out, I take her out. I get the sprinklers set up to water the herb and vegetable gardens. I have to move the vegetable garden sprinkler from one spot to another so that the water reaches the whole garden. Then I go into the house to take my shower and settle down with a cup of coffee.

I probably won’t have to water the gardens tomorrow because the next few days are supposed to be rainy-ish. It looks as if there could be periods where we can go out and finish planting. The rain will be good for the gardens.

 

The Merry Month of May

I cannot believe that we are already nearing the end of May! Wow! It went by quickly. This has really been a month of transition–as far as the weather is concerned. Since I’ve last written, we’ve had a week of snow which, though at times it dusted the ground, quickly melted. We’ve rainy days. We’ve had warm days, and cool days, and then back to warmth again. In fact, this week the temperatures are going to rise into the 70s (F), with a high of 76 forecasted for Saturday. With the warmer weather, the trees are beginning to leaf. I see more and more green on the trees every day.

Earlier in the month, when it was still cold and snowy, we went to a farm store to buy several bags of chicken feed and dog food. I spent the next several days scooping the chicken feed into empty kitty litter buckets to keep it safe from rodents. I filled 30 buckets.

Pretzel Buckets

I also bought several large containers of pretzels–not because I wanted the pretzels, although I enjoy pretzels, but because I wanted the buckets to store flours, oatmeal, and other things that I don’t want mice to get into. I figured it was cheaper to buy the buckets of pretzels than to buy empty storage buckets. LOL.

We live on the border of two counties. They each had tree sales in the spring so we ordered five elderberry bushes from one country and five Norway Spruce trees from another. Pick up was delayed because of the quarantine, but we were able to pick up both orders over the last couple of weeks, and we got everything planted.

Our neighbor’s house being built.

We planted two of the Norway Spruce trees to block a spot where we can see our neighbor’s property through the trees. Our properties were originally one 10 acre property, which the original owner split off into two 5 acre lots. We share a short section of our driveway. Our neighbor’s property had originally been their vacation property. They had just a tiny little house on it, which they visited only a few times in the summer. But now that they have retired, they plan to move up here full-time. They are in the process of having a house built. A BIG  house, it looks like. I’ve really enjoyed the quiet of the neighbors not being here much, and I really hope that when they are here full-time, they will be friendly-ish and not noisy.

One warm day a week or so ago, I washed the windows and put the screens in. It was nice to be able to open the windows and let the fresh breeze in. Of course, it then turned cooler again, but I think warmer weather is coming in to stay.

We’ve also gotten out the garden hoses–one in the front yard and two in the back yard. One of the hoses in the back yard will have a sprinkler attached, while I’ll use the other one to fill the chickens’ and cats’ water dishes.

Chickens shut out of the garden

Last Friday EJ and I worked together to shovel dirt into the raised garden boxes. The chickens tend to scratch some of the dirt out so we shut them out of the garden. They get access to the garden except between planting and harvest. They still have a big outside fenced in area to enjoy. We don’t free-range them because we have too many predators in the area.

This last weekend EJ cut longer boards into shorter ones for me, which I carefully labeled them with the names of the herbs I am planting in the boxes at the front of the house. Today was warm enough that I planted the boxes with my herbs. Now I can cross my fingers and hope the plants grow.

While I worked in the front yard garden this morning, EJ was working in the back yard garden. He finished filling the boxes with dirt and then he planted some peas.

Indigo Bunting in the lilac bush.

We’ve been enjoying a lot of the Spring birds coming through. I’m continuing to put sunflower seeds in a feeder, and I’ve also put out the hummingbird feeder and oranges. So far we have seen Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Orioles, Hummingbirds, a Scarlet Tanager, Northern Flickers, Bluebirds, and beautiful blue Indigo Buntings.  It’s such a joy watching them. It looks like bluebirds are going to nest in the birdhouse again.

It was still daylight outside last night at 9pm when I glanced out the window and saw a large raccoon climb the post to eat the sunflower seeds in the birdfeeder. I grabbed my camera to take a photo when I saw our cat, Theo, stalking the raccoon. It really scared me because I know raccoons can be mean. Theo wouldn’t have a chance against it. I knocked on the window hoping to interrupt a bad situation. The raccoon quickly ran off…but foolish Theo ran after it! I quickly stepped into my slip-on shoes and ran outside, calling “Here, kitty, kitty!” I saw the raccoon in a tree at the edge of the forest with Theo at the base. I was afraid Theo would climb the tree after it! I continued desperately calling, “here, kitty, kitty” and Theo abandoned his pursuit and ran up to me. Millie ran up to me too so I led them through the garden and shut them safely in the coop with the chickens for the night. Whew!

The photo I took is blurry because both the raccoon and Theo were moving, and I was also beginning to move in an attempt to rescue the cat. But you can still see both the raccoon and the cat.

Theo on the deck. The raccoon coming down the post.

We get most of our work done during the weekend. The rest of the time, in between my other tasks, I have been “homeschooling” myself, educating myself on current events, following interesting rabbit trails, chatting with friends. It’s been so interesting that I have stayed up late and haven’t written. Sorry for neglecting you.

I hope you all are doing alright. I know this year has been challenging. A lot of people are really struggling. My heart goes out to everyone. It hasn’t been that bad for us because we have our Enchanted Forest. I shudder to think what this quarantine would have been like for us if we were still living downstate in our house on a small lot in town.

 

Home & Garden

I had originally planned to write about the coronavirus lockdown and how it was affecting us–you know, because it’s history. But I have decided against it. I’ve been paying attention to and interacting with what’s going on in my state, the USA, and the world but it’s left me frustrated, stressed, sad, and unfocused. I need a place where I can get around from all the “stuff”–and maybe others do too–so I am not going to write about it on this blog–or only very indirectly–because I need it to be my Happy Place. So…..

EJ’s plant shelves

We didn’t know if we could get plants this year, so we have been ordering some seeds online and EJ has gone to a few stores and found more seeds that we need. We don’t really have a good place to start seeds–we don’t have a greenhouse outside, and the pets would knock down any planters we put on the window sills. Last weekend, though, EJ built temporary shelves in the house so he can get some seeds started. When he’s able to get the plants out in the garden, he will remove the shelves. We will tweak our ability to get seeds started early to constantly improve it in future years. So far Hannah Joy and the cats have left them alone, although I did see Hannah looking at them once.

Snake at the bottom center

One afternoon last weekend when I went out to gather eggs, I saw Millie come trotting into the garden. Something about her looked strange, so I looked closer. She was carrying a snake! I hurried into the house to tell EJ. He came outside to look at it. He said it was just a harmless snake, and he tried to rescue it, but Millie killed it before he could. I wouldn’t have minded EJ letting it go into the woods, but I’m glad Millie didn’t carry it into the coop and release it. I wouldn’t want a snake eating our eggs.

I had ordered a couple pounds of ginger root from the Internet and they arrived a little over a week ago. I spent a couple days last week peeling it and then drying it in our food dehydrator. After it was dried, I ground it in our little grinder. I saved a few roots so I can try to grow them. I’ve never done it before so it will be an experiment. I like making our own herbs and spices, when possible.

Friday EJ went grocery shopping. We used to always go together, but with the lockdown EJ became our “designated shopper.” When he prepares to leave, he always announces that he’s leaving for the “Forbidden Zone.” We used to only go to one store for groceries, but since some items are scarce, he ends up going to two or three stores. Usually, when we–now he–returns from grocery shopping, he unloads the vehicle while I put items away. That way, Hannah Joy can’t get into things. But we forgot on Friday and I went out to help unload the Suburban. When I came into the house with a few bags, I heard Hannah Joy repeatedly sneezing. I look more closely at her and noticed that she was on the floor with her head in a bag of flour. I snatched it away from her–she didn’t get much of it–and EJ finished bringing the groceries in by himself.

Saturday morning Hannah Joy saw Theo on the front porch and she rushed to the window to bark at him. In the process, she knocked over a large pot, spilling dirt everywhere. She’s been such a rascal lately! But she’s also adorable.

Holding hands.

Several counties in our area have an annual tree sale. Maybe all the counties in Michigan do, but I wasn’t aware of it when we lived downstate. This year ordered a bundle of elderberry bushes from our county. They were available this weekend. Hannah Joy and I haven’t been anywhere for almost two months, so we went along with EJ on Saturday to pick the bushes up, just so we could get out of the house. On the way, EJ and I held hands. After a moment or two, Hannah Joy put her paws on top of our hands as if she wanted to get in on the hand holding as well. I thought it was very sweet.

Adorkable Hannah Joy

Here is a cute photo of Hannah Joy bringing her ring toy to me so I will play with her. She is such an adorkable goof. Ok, can you tell that we love her?

After chilly snowy/rainy days last week, we finally had a couple of nice days this weekend. We worked out in the garden today. It’s still too early to plant, but we worked at getting the garden ready. I put some good dirt in my herb boxes at the front of the house while EJ worked in the vegetable garden in the back. He shoveled all the dirt out of the garden boxes. He plans to mix it with the newer dirt and then shovel the dirt back into the boxes.

 

What’s the Point?

I thought I better write early today because the weather is messy today with rain, snow, and high wind in the forecast and it’s always possible under such conditions that we could lose our power. It is snowing as I write this. With the wind blowing it in swirls, it reminds me of Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”

It’s not always easy to comprehend that in the southern USA, people are experiencing 80+ (F) degree weather, flowers, and growing gardens.

Confusion (Photo from Pixabay)

Our governor’s new “Stay at Home” orders seem random, arbitrary, and often nonsensical. Motorboating and jet skiing are now off-limits, but canoeing and kayaking aren’t. Even though canoeing and kayaking are allowed, the Department of Natural Resources is removing docks at boat launches. Supposedly, motorboats and jetskis aren’t allowed because they require gas and the virus can be spread at gas pumps, but if people must already go to gas stations to fill up their vehicles anyway, I don’t see the problem with them also filling up their boats while they are there. Some items in a store are deemed “essential” and others are not and can’t be bought. I think that either a business is “essential” or not, either it’s open or closed, but once you start making decisions about which items can be bought or not, it gets crazy.  Who gets to judge whether or not an item is essential? For example, shoes might be a luxury for some people, but a necessity for others if their shoes are worn out or outgrown.

A friend wrote that “Big stores are open. Horrocks [a farm market-type store] in Lansing had cops called for selling flats of vegetables. Cut flowers are ok. Spa, where service is clean and changed between clients, are closed. Lottery line is fine. Golf outdoors is closed, home depo is ok.” Huh? Lottery tickets and cut flowers are ok but not vegetable plants? Why prohibit people from buying plants? It hurts farm/nursery businesses (i.e., livelihoods) to not be able to sell plants. And if people can’t plant gardens, they will be forced to buy food from stores, which will cause MORE interactions (less social distancing). Planting gardens would also put less strain on stores, which already are having trouble keeping shelves stocked. 

I remember hearing a radio interview with an educator years ago. She said that we must always remember to ask “What’s the point?” She used an example of teachers instructing children to use different colored folders for each subject to help them keep organized. She said, “Don’t force a child to use the colored folders if he/she doesn’t want to use them and is able to keep organized without them. Don’t forget to keep in mind that ‘the point’ is not the colored folders but organization.” In a similar way, the point during our current crises is not to simply ban items but to maintain “social distancing” to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus. People aren’t going to have less social distancing because they are in the garden center rather than in the grocery area of an opened store so why not allow people to buy whatever they need while in that store?

Anyway, our soil is mostly sand so we need to buy dirt for our raised garden beds. Not knowing which items are going to be difficult to find or are going to be considered “non-essential” and banned, EJ and I decided to buy bags of dirt on Friday.  We usually buy it at Meijers, where it is very inexpensive, but EJ’s co-workers told him that Meijers is now limiting the number of people allowed in the store, and people are allowed in the store only for 15 minutes at a time. We didn’t want to deal with long lines, so we tried to order the dirt on-line and then go pick it up. That went fine except we had to schedule a time for pick up when we ordered and every time was “unavailable” so the order wouldn’t go through. We finally discovered that dirt was on sale at Tractor Supply. It was a little more expensive, but at least EJ was able to go buy it. He is our family’s “designated shopper.”

We’ve ordered seeds online while we can still find them. No use buying dirt if we don’t have anything to plant.

Saturday we rested. Sunday EJ unloaded our ten bags of dirt and carried them into the garden. He put them in boxes that were turned on their sides to keep them out of the weather. Mostly. Maybe next weekend we will fill the garden boxes. EJ ended up going to a grocery store in a nearby town to pick up a few things. We usually don’t shop at that store, but we didn’t want to go to Meijers and our little grocery store that’s just a couple miles away was closed for Easter. He was able to get almost everything on our list.

In the garden looking toward the chicken area.

While EJ was gone, I did dishes, gathered eggs, and shoveled the dirt out of one of our “kiddie pool” compost piles so I could move it into the chicken pen. The chickens eat kitchen scraps and what they don’t eat they scratch up and break down faster. Once we plant our garden, we don’t allow the chickens in it because they would eat everything. Even when they aren’t allowed in the garden, they still have a large outside pen to enjoy.

Hannah Joy apparently wanted to get in on the gardening. She likes to be outside with us so I fastened her leash to a t-post while we went around the corner of our house to look at the garden for a couple minutes. When we returned, we found her in one of the boxes near the deck, which I use for my herbs. I am not sure why she did this. 😀

Hannah Joy was in a complaining mood yesterday. I don’t know if she was jealous because Little Bear was on my lap, if she wanted me to retrieve her ball for her, or if she wanted outside. She didn’t say. She can’t blame it on the “Stay at Home” order since her life hasn’t changed any.

Hannah Joy makes me laugh.

 

Essential Workers

I have been taking the chicken wire off from our raised garden beds this week. We had put them around the boxes to prevent the ducks from eating our produce. We no longer needed the fencing after we got rid of the ducks but are only this year getting around to removing it. And we are only removing it now because EJ wanted to rearrange the boxes for our raised garden beds so we have a greater area to grow corn.

The new arrangement of Garden Boxes

I got a lot of the fencing removed before EJ woke up yesterday morning. Later he came out to the garden with me because I wanted his input on where to place the boxes. After he left for work, I went out to the garden to work. I had to take the dirt out of the boxes, then pull them off the pallets, then move the pallets to the new place, then arrange the boxes back on the pallet. Getting boxes on the pallets just right was sort of like putting together a puzzle or playing Tetris. I had to carefully “fit” the boxes together on each pallet. The boxes aren’t beautiful, but they are functional. We use whatever box or container we could find. It is wonderful when the herbs and veggies are growing.

I also had to make sure that the raised beds were far enough apart for the wheelbarrow or lawnmower could fit between. At first I paced the distance–three and a half of my steps were a good distance. But after a while I found a board that was about the right length and I used that for the spacing.

Many of the boxes were heavy even without any dirt in them. I didn’t try to lift them though. I just sort of tipped them on their sides and “walked” them to wear I wanted them. EJ feels bad when I works so hard, but I do as much as I can to help him because he has chronic back pain from an old injury.

The weather yesterday was very pleasant. It was 60 degrees (F) outside and sunny. I got so warm working in the garden that I took off my coat. Today was much colder so I had to put my coat and hat on. It snowed, sometimes quite heavily, although none stayed on the ground. It still was enjoyable working outside. I finished getting all the raised garden beds arranged today. EJ said he really liked my arrangement. I was able to gain a strip of land 8 feet wide for the corn.

The chickens hung out with me while I worked. Often they climbed on the boxes and pallets I was trying to move. Whenever I lifted a pallet up off the ground, they rushed in to search for worms or insects to eat. I had to be very, very careful that I didn’t trip over them or accidentally drop a box/pallet on them. Fortunately, we got the job accomplished with no injuries. I also had to be careful of the cats. Theo repeatedly jumped on my back and climbed up on my shoulders while I worked. Life can be tricky in the Enchanted Forest.

Chickens are actually very beneficial to a garden. Their scratching in the soil helps prepare it for planting, and their poop is good manure. I call the chickens my “essential workers.” I took this video of them on Tuesday morning:

Our next task is to refill the boxes with soil. We can use the soil I took out of them but I’m not sure that will fill all the boxes. Meijer’s has the soil we need at a really good price, but I’m not sure how we will be able to get it with all the “social distancing” restrictions put in place. EJ said a co-worker told him that Meijers is only allowing a small group of people in their stores at one time. I tried to order it from their website but although they had the soil available, all their pickup times were “unavailable.” Oh, well. We will fill as many boxes are we can with the dirt we have and then shrug.

Cuddles

With the weather getting more Springlike, I’m getting more and more eager to open the windows to let fresh air but it’s still a bit early. I don’t start trusting that warm weather is here to stay until around May.

I am planning though. I know EJ would like to reconfigure the garden boxes. I started to move some of them yesterday afternoon, but I am not sure exactly how he wants it so I will need to consult with him before I do more.

Chicken Coop with panel taken out.

I took a photo yesterday of the fancy chicken coop with the wire panel removed. We removed it Sunday night so I could retrieve the pile of eggs that we discovered the hens were laying in the far corner. I saw a hen back there when I took the photo and later I found her egg. It’s still an effort to reach the eggs, but it is not impossible now that the panel is removed.

 

 

Female Bluebird

As I sit in my chair drinking my morning coffee, I’m watching a bluebird outside. Last year a couple built a nest in one of the birdhouses. I hope they nest there again this year because I love watching them. I’m thinking that I would like to raise mealworms so that I can give tasty treats to nesting birds and to our chickens. Buying dried mealworms from a store is too expensive. I never would have imagined that I would become a worm farmer. LOL.

I was thinking about how thankful I am that we are living in our Enchanted Forest rather than downstate during this time when the Covid-19 virus is forcing us to stay home. Our house downstate was on a small shady lot in a small village. Our house had narrow windows which made it so dark inside we had to keep the lights on even during the sunniest days. It would have been depressing to remain there. Our Enchanted Forest home is the complete opposite. Although surrounded by forest, our house is on a sunny hilltop and has larger windows to let the sun pour through. We have five acres to enjoy rather than a tiny lot. We are surrounded by natural beauty rather than houses. I am so very glad we are here. I don’t feel at all confined. 

Millie likes to roam but Theo stayed in the fenced-in garden all winter. With the warmer weather, however, he’s been leaving the garden too. This enables me to keep the cats’ food dish on the front porch where the chickens can’t get to it and eat it all. Problem solved. This morning Theo saw me through the window and came up to peek. It made me laugh.

Hannah Joy really enjoys her cuddles. She is such a “cuddle bunny,” which is good because both EJ and I also enjoy cuddling with her. Yesterday morning I took a video of Hannah cuddling with me, as she often does. I love how completely trusting and relaxed she is.

The Muffin Mistake

A dusting of snow

Yesterday was a cozy rainy day. We relaxed and I finished reading Isaac Asimov’s novel, Prelude to Foundation. I have read it several times over the years. I thought EJ would enjoy the story so I found an audiobook of it on Youtube and we began listening to it. It will take us several days to listen to. EJ is enjoying it, as I knew he would.

We woke today to a powdered sugar dusting of snow on the ground. I thought at first it was frost, but EJ went out to check and declared it to be snow. It remained chilly today, but the day was still beautiful.

This morning I decided to make pumpkin raisin muffins. I think every kind of muffin is my favorite, but pumpkin raisin muffins are probably my most favorite favorite. I had all the ingredients mixed together and was beginning to spoon the batter into the muffin tin when I paused because the batter didn’t look right. I looked through the recipe again and realized I had put 2 tablespoons of baking powder in it instead of two teaspoons. Oops. Oh, well. I just put in two-times more of the other ingredients, making a triple batch of muffins instead of a single batch. As far as I’m concerned, this was a very delicious mistake, which I wouldn’t mind making again in the future.

I did laundry throughout the day. For lunch, I made General Tso’s Chicken in the Instant Pot with a side of broccoli–one of our favorite meals. I used the last of my ginger. We have ordered more ginger root, but it hasn’t arrived yet. I will dry and ground up some and EJ will plant others. EJ noticed that my little spice jars of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves were empty–I had used the last of the spices in the muffins–so he went to the pantry for more and refilled them. He ground up the cloves for me.

I did dishes and cleaned the house. Meanwhile, EJ did a few other tasks, including clearing off the front porch. He brought out the park benches to look over with the intention of repainting them when the weather gets warmer.

After lunch, we went out to look at the garden in order to plan how we are going to reconfigure it to make better use of our garden space. I’m not sure how we are going to get new dirt for the boxes if we can’t leave our homes. Buying seeds/plants will also be a challenge because the nurseries are overwhelmed with orders right now because more people are, apparently, planning to put in gardens this year. At some websites, there is a waiting list, and other sites simply list the seeds as “out of stock.” I was able to find seeds of the herbs I use most on Amazon. EJ has some seeds left from last year. Hopefully, we will have enough.

Organized Cupboard.

EJ enjoys almonds. He often takes them to work for a healthy snack. The almonds come in square containers which are the perfect size to hold sugar, baking powder, baking soda,  bread crumbs–anything dry. So when EJ empties a container, I take it to repurpose it. Even with the wonderful almond containers, the cupboard is crowded and we have to keep moving things out of the way to get to the item we want. There is a lot of wasted space because most of the containers are not tall. I mentioned to EJ this morning that I could organize the cupboard better if I had an additional shelf inside the cupboard. He went out to the garage and built one, making a 2-shelf cupboard into a 3-shelf one. Then together we happily organized everything.

Fancy coop on the left. Photo from 2018.

EJ went out with me this evening to shut the cats and chickens safely in the coop. As I was counting all the animals to make sure I had the correct number, we noticed a pile of eggs in the bottom of the fancy coop, way in the back corner where I couldn’t reach. I got on my hands and knees and reached in with my rubber footed cane to drag the eggs toward me. I keep the cane in the coop to use whenever the eggs are a little too far away to reach. But these eggs were WAY too far back and there was too much straw in the way. EJ finally went into the garage and brought back some wire cutters. We cut one of the wire panels out and I was able to easily retrieve the eggs with my cane. The hens had hidden 21 eggs back there!

After we got in the house, EJ “candled” the eggs, meaning he shown a flashlight through them to make sure that embryos weren’t developing in them. There were all ok, but we won’t sell these eggs to customers. Meanwhile, I took a shower…because I had been crawling through the dirty straw.

As we left the coop, we heard coyotes howling. Since we were safely in our fenced-in garden, we paused to listen to them.

EJ makes bread every weekend. As I write this post, he is out in the kitchen making four loaves. 🙂

 

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