Cool…and Warmth

Last night we had a freeze, with temperatures down around 30 (F) degrees. Brrr. I confess that I turned on the furnace last night. I try to last into October before I turn on the furnance, but 30 is a bit too cold to not have heat. I’m not quite ready for it to be this cold yet. I commented to EJ today that we actually only have three months of T-shirt weather here in Northern Michigan. The rest of the months we wear coats, jackets, or sweatshirts. I actually prefer cooler weather so it’s ok. It’s just kind of a shock when the weather turns cold.

Because of the freeze warning, I harvested the last of the herbs and got them into the dehydrator yesterday afternoon.

EJ called the farm where we bought our straw last year, but the farmer said they were all out; people were buying early this year. He said he had sold some of his straw to one of the farm stores so EJ called them and they said they had some. Of course, it was a little more expensive because we weren’t buying directly from the farmer, but at least we were able to get some. The farm store is right on EJ’s route to work so he just left early and stopped in to buy what we needed.

This morning I unloaded the ten bales of straw from the pickup, loading two at a time in the wheelbarrow and taking them to the coop. EJ said Hannah Joy ran from window to window as she followed my progress around the house.

We use the straw bales to provide insulation for the coop. There are different opinions about whether or not to heat a coop in the winter, but we choose not to for two reasons” 1. it’s too easy for a coop to catch on fire from a heat source and 2. If the chickens get used to a heated coop and then the power goes out, they will suffer more from the cold. I give the chicken’s some cracked corn to eat when the weather turns cold. Digesting the corn raises their body temperature, which also helps warm the coop.

The original plan was for EJ to have three bales for his garden, but I ended up using them all. I did give him the old poopy bale leftover from last year (chicken poop is good fertilizer), and he can easily stop in at the farm store again for a few more bales.

The Fancy Coop on the left. The old dog house on the right.

Our coop is actually a 10′ x 12′ shed. Inside the coop, we have a fancy coop that we bought from Tractor Supply Co. and a heavy wooden dog house that the previous owners had left behind when they moved. I huffed and puffed to pull the dog house away from the wall a bit so I could fit two straw bales between it and the wall. Otherwise, the bales I put in front of the chickens’ little “back door” blocks the entrance to the doghouse. I don’t mind that the bales between the wall and doghouse will provide more insulation. I also put bales on the fancy coop and the platforms I had built for roosts.

The chickens, as always, were very curious about what I was doing and followed me around. They also kept climbing on the bales and checking them out. Chickens are very curious critters.

Once EJ woke up and got some pancakes and coffee into him, he went out to his garden. I think he covered up the few not-yet-ready-to-harvest plants. He also put two of his hot pepper plants in a large pot and brought it into the house. As an experiment, we are going to see if we can keep it alive during the winter. I also put some of my herbs in pots a week or so ago to see if I can keep them alive. I haven’t had much luck in past years but “hope springs eternal” even in the middle of winter.

I’m resting now from my hard work. But as I sit in my chair and look out the window, I see the hummingbird feeder. I think I will bring it in and put it away because I’m sure the hummingbirds have all left for their trek north. I also need to bring in the birdbath.

We are expecting another freeze tonight. The furnace is staying on.

Mouse Tails

Last Friday we took Hannah Joy to the vet. Nothing was wrong. It was just time for her annual wellness check. We actually should have taken her last Spring, but we didn’t because of the Lockdowns and all. The vet said Hannah is in good health. We paid the bill and as we walked down the short hall toward the door to leave, one of the staff called out that Hannah’s heartworm test was negative. I said to Hannah, “I knew you have a good heart.”<3 Hannah has a good heart, but a jealous soul. She doesn’t like the cats to get more attention than she does.

That same evening, EJ and I were relaxing in the living room when we suddenly heard a banging noise–more like a thud, really.  Not loud. Hannah heard it too and she leaped up to track it down. We heard it repeated again. And then again. We couldn’t tell where it was coming from, so we looked out the windows to see if there was an animal outside getting into something. Nope. Nothing. We heard it again. Finally, I recognized the noise as one of the cats trying to open a cabinet door. Timmy was in the bathroom pulling the door, which then slipped out of his grasp and banged shut. When a cat tries to open a cabinet door, it usually means there is a mouse inside and, sure enough, EJ found a mouse when he opened the door. It just sat there staring at him so even though it wasn’t in the trap EJ had put in there earlier, he thinks it had been injured by it.

EJ went in search of something to put the mouse in so he could carry it outside. He finally found a small empty container, and he was going to scoop the mouse into it, but Hannah Joy rushed in and ate the mouse. She didn’t swallow it immediately, and its tail hung from her mouth for a few moments while she trotted through the house. I think that seeing the dangling tail is what makes it extra gross. Eeewwww.  An hour or so later, Hannah vomited. I was already grossed out by the mouse-eating so EJ cleaned up the vomit for me.

I actually think Hannah Joy is a better mouser than the cats. They play with mice and sometimes let them escape. Hannah just rushes in and eats them.

Sunday we did some tasks around the house. I had finished my signs earlier in the week so we put them in the truck, along with some tools,  and drove down the hill. EJ used the post hole digger to dig out the hole for my “Welcome” sign, put the sign in it, and then packed down the sand with his sledgehammer. Then he screwed our house number and “eggs for sale” sign into the other post.

My view

Because of the position of our chairs in the living room, EJ and I can see slightly different views out of the window. He has a straight-on view and I have more of a side view. So EJ was able to see the large bird flying toward the house. “Large bird!” he exclaimed. “Is it an eagle?” I leap up to look, and we both watched the majestic bald eagle flying toward and past the house. I am never able to get a photo of eagles because their powerful wings take them quickly out of sight, more quickly than I can grab my camera. And, besides, I’m always held motionless by their beauty.

And then there’s the smallest of birds, the hummingbird. I hadn’t seen any for a week or so and t thought they had probably already started their journey south but then I saw one yesterday so there is at least one laggard. I’ll leave the nectar feeder out for a few more days before putting it away until next Spring.

Added to my list of chores is putting our American flag up the pole in the morning and taking it down in the evening. It’s not really a chore. It’s a task I enjoy. Yesterday evening as I walked up to the pole, I surprised–and was surprised by–a deer walking up the hill a short distance away. Behind her were three other deer. It looked like the Mama with her two fawns. We all froze, looking at each other without moving. The closest deer stamped her food in warning. I didn’t move. Then she snorted and they all rain off into the safety of the forest.

We have motion detector lights around the outside of our house. Last night as I was preparing to go to bed, I saw one in the back yard suddenly turn on. I looked out the window. At first I didn’t see anything, but then I noticed an oppossum moving along the side of the house. I watched it until the light turned off and hid it in darkness. I often wonder what animals are wandering through our property at night. Someday I’d like to get an outdoor security/trail camera to record them.

Hannah just found and ate another mouse.
Yuck.

Summer’s End

Autumn weather has definitely arrived. Although at this time of the year we can still get warm/hot days, we are seeing more cool days. I’ve been wearing jeans and jackets now, and I put a couple more blankets on the bed. This is the time of year when we always play a game called “How long can we last before we turn on the furnace?” It’s not yet cold enough to give in.

Plants back inside

However, the low tonight is expected to dip down to 39 (F) degrees tonight and EJ read that we could get some frost. To be safe, I lugged my house plants back inside. I always put them out on the deck in the warmer months and bring them back in when it gets cooler. It took me all afternoon to bring them all in, partially because Theo, our outside cat, has recently discovered that “there is a wondrous world in the house” and he keeps trying to sneak in. Trying to get the heavy pots through the door, while keeping the outside cat outside and the inside pets inside was a difficult task, and I finally took a break to wait until Theo wandered off. I also transplanted some of my favorite herbs into pots and brought them in. I’d like to try to keep them alive over the winter, although I’m usually not successful. Still, I can always hope.

Sunflowers

Over the summer the deer ate the sunflowers I planted outside the garden fence, but I planted a few inside the fence and they are now blooming. I’ll save the seeds and next year I’ll plant them INSIDE the fence. I love sunflowers because they are so cheerful and bright. If I can ever get enough of a crop, I’ll start roasting some of the seeds for eating rather than just planting.

Two weekends ago we bought 20 bags of poultry feed at the farm store, most of which I scooped into kitty litter buckets to keep it safe from the mice. Last weekend we return to the farm store to buy two 50lb bags of dog food,  two 40lb bags of cat food, and four bags of cracked corn for the chickens. Digesting the cracked corn actually raises the chickens’ body temperature so I add it to their feed in the winter.

We still need to get bales of straw for the coop, and I’d like to get a winters’ supply of seed for the wild birds (and whatever critters come to the feeders to eat what the wild birds don’t).

A nice day at the lake

Last Saturday we went to a nearby lake because we had heard that there was going to be a boat parade and I really wanted to see it. I’ve seen videos of them in other places and they look really cool AND they will be part of history. We had heard that the boats were starting off from a point about midway down one of the large lakes in our area. Shortly after 1 pm, which is when they were supposed to take off, we headed to the lake and we set up chairs at the beach near their destination. We waited for two hours but never saw them. We finally gave up because we were getting chilled, but we drove along the shore for a while to see if we could spot them before heading for home. Later we saw videos on FB of the parade. They either got a later-than-expected start or they went north up the lake before following it back to the south end where we were. Bummer. Oh, well. The day was very beautiful and it was peaceful sitting at the lake. Also, we enjoyed chatting with a couple women who were also there to watch the parade.

Usually, we take Hannah Joy with us when we go anywhere but we left her home when we went to the lake because we didn’t know how many people would be there or how she’d react to them. Hannah hates being apart from us, and she’s been very clingy ever since. Poor dear.

My egg sign

I finished repainting my “welcome” sign on Sunday. When it stops raining, we will spray a protective coating on it and then put it back down along the driveway. I made a new house number sign because the old one is getting faded, and I also am working on an “eggs for sale” sign. I use boards from wooden pallets for my signs, trace around wooden letters (the wooden letters themselves don’t hold up to the weather), and paint them. I won’t put the “eggs for sale” sign along the road because I’d rather have customers find me through word of mouth contacts or FB groups. But I’m going to put the sign where our driveway branches off from our neighbors so new customers know they’ve found the right place.

 

Raising our Flag

I haven’t written much this summer, although I have thought all summer about writing. 🙂

Our weather has become very autumnish. The temperatures are cooler so that on some days–especially in the mornings, I have begun wearing sweaters. I’ve even seen a couple trees with colorful leaves.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been harvesting and drying my herbs. Usually, I buy herb plants so they have time to grow and spread but this year, because of the lockdowns, I bought seeds, which means they took longer to grow and I don’t have as many. I’m hoping I’ll have enough dried herbs to get me through the winter. Next year, I’d like to plant more. Also, a friend told me she puts herb stems in water to sprout and replant. I’d like to try that.

Carrots

A couple weeks ago EJ harvested his carrots. This is the first year we’ve really had a good harvest of carrots. I wasn’t sure what to do with them all until EJ commented that I could freeze them. Duh. I should have thought of that. I spent that afternoon peeling, cutting, blanching, and freezing them.

The corn didn’t do very well, which was a bit disappointing. Sigh. We struggle with our soil, which is really just sand. It’s one reason why we have raised garden beds filled with store-bought dirt. The other reason being that raised beds are easier on our backs to care for–much less bending to weed. We’d really like to have a truckload of good soil brought in for our garden, but so far we haven’t been able to afford it. So instead we experiment and tweak. Some things work. Some things don’t.

Apples!

Our squash harvest was good though. We’ve been having summer squash with many meals. 🙂

Some of our apple trees are also producing apples for the first year. Not a lot, mind you, but the trees are young and we are just getting started.

 

Homemade Taco Seasoning

I found a recipe for homemade taco seasoning and made up a batch. Actually, I think I made a quadruple batch x3  so I won’t have to make it very often.  It turned out quite tasty. It’s quite fun making our own mixes. I used some of my own herbs in the seasoning.

My most-regular egg customers told their friend how much they loved my eggs, and then they started picking up a few dozen for her too whenever they bought for themselves. Last week the wife brought the friend over to show her the way to our house so she could pick them up for herself. That way, she could get eggs whenever she needed eggs, rather than have to wait on them. I always offer to let new (or old) customers visit the chickens if they want, which maybe sounds kind of childish, but I think most of us don’t have much experience with chickens. My customers always remark on how beautiful my chickens are, as I explain how I care for them and their interesting characteristics. I jokingly told EJ that we should get more animals and open a petting zoo or something because I have fun “educating” people about the animals.

We like to try to buy enough poultry feed to (mostly) last through the winter so we ordered 20 bags of poultry feed on-line and then went to pick it up at the store last Sunday. I spent the next 2-3 days scooping the feed into kitty litter buckets to keep it safe from mice. Each bag fills two empty buckets. I had enough empty buckets to put all except five bags in. Now we just have to get cracked corn for the chickens, and bags of dog and cat food and we will be ready for winter.

The other day EJ looked out the bedroom window and exclaimed that there was a large flock of turkeys outside. Then he noticed that one of the turkeys was IN the garden. I was concerned it was trapped in the garden, so I went out to open the big gate so it could have an exit. Before I could get the gate opened, the turkey flew out of the garden and rejoined its flock. Well, duh. Turkeys can fly. I felt kind of silly, but I had been thinking of our chickens, who don’t fly and who get upset when they get separated from the flock.

I’ve seen a Mama deer and her two little ones a few times this year. Like, maybe three times; once when the fawns were very tiny. I have to be careful because if Hannah Joy suspects that I see something outside, she will look out the window and then bark and scare them away. I tell Hannah “Shhhh!” but she gets too excited to listen–or maybe she has too much fun scaring them. Here is a video I took of the Mama and fawns. I just love living here in our Enchanted Forest.

 

Our beautiful flag

We used to put up our flag every day when we lived downstate, but I couldn’t find it after we moved. This July, we finally ordered another flag. We thought we had a pole to hang it on, but we finally said “screw it” and ordered a sturdy 20-foot pole, which is much taller than I imagined! It arrived last week and EJ made a cement base for it last weekend. On Tuesday we were able to have our flag raising.  We put the flag out by the big rocks. I love looking out my windows and seeing the flag waving in the breeze. I love our flag and what it represents. I love our country.

This is a video I took of EJ raising our flag for the first time. I figured out how to add music to it on Youtube. I think music enhances this video.

Hannah Joy

One of the reasons I haven’t posted much this summer is because when I’m not doing my various chores and tasks, I’ve been on-line keeping up with what is happening in our country. I follow a number of researchers who understand what is happening, why, and what is being done about it. One of them posts two interesting daily videos–one about the economy and the other about the political/geopolitical events–which you can see here: X22 Report. Because of people like this, I am not overly worried about our country. I think we will be ok. If you are stressed by current events, I suggest you check the videos out.

 

Herb Harvest

I haven’t done so well with writing much this summer. Sorry about that. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking over the last few months and I’ve frequently thought “I need to write about this,” but I didn’t know where to start and I’ve had to let my thoughts simmer longer. I think I will share some of them soon, but I decided to catch you up on the last few weeks first.

We are doing well.

I usually think of August as being the hottest month of the year, but actually this summer this month has felt cooler than July. There are days when it’s humid out and we turn on the air conditioning, but mostly the temperatures are pleasant.

Last weekend I saw some leaves beginning to change color. It seems too early, but I think that every year. Autumn always seems to take me by surprise.

Indigo Bunting – Photo from Pixabay

A beautiful blue indigo bunting has been visiting our bird feeder lately. We’ve only seen them briefly in past years so it’s a joy to have the bunting visit regularly.

Theo, one of our two outside cats, have discovered the birdfeeders. He often hunkers down and waits for an unsuspecting bird to land on the tray feeder and then he leaps up to catch it. Usually, all he does is bonk his head under the feeder, spilling the seed onto the deck. I affectionately call him a “dunderhead” because he bonks his head so much. Theo is much better at catching rodents so I think he should stick to them. I don’t mind if they catch rodents, but I hate it when/if they catch birds. When Hannah Joy notices all the spilled seed, she demands to go outside and she eats it. In the summer I put my house plants out on the deck. I’ve begun arranging them under the birdfeeder to try to block Theo attempts. I have to move the plants away in the evening because I don’t want the raccoons to crush my house plants when they climb the post to the feeders.

Several weeks ago, a large Mama raccoon started bringing her two babies to the feeders after dark to eat what the birds left. They weren’t tiny–more like teenage raccoons. Lately I’ve seen only one of the babies visit so I think that perhaps they are old enough to go out on their own.

Drying herbs in the dehydrator

I’ve been busy harvesting and drying my herbs. Every few days I go out to my herb garden, cut some of the herbs, arrange them on the racks, put the racks in the dehydrator, and then wait a day or two for them to dry. When they are dry, I chop them up and put them in jars which I label. I love growing and using my own herbs.

 

My ginger plant
My ginger plant…and Little Bear

 

Earlier in the Spring, I sent away for several pounds of ginger roots. I dried them in the dehydrator and then ground them up. I do the same with cinnamon bark. I kept back a couple ginger roots and planted them in a pot in the house. I wasn’t sure they’d grow, but I figured it would be fun to try. It took forever, but they finally began to grow and now I have a decent-sized plant.

One of my roosters

The last time my most regular egg customer stopped in, a week or so ago, he brought along his daughter and her husband, who were visiting from out-of-state. He wanted them to see the chickens who are laying the eggs that they all say are delicious. I always let my egg customers meet my chickens if they want. I have Rhode Island and New Hampshire Reds. They really are beautiful. Until I got my first flock about four years ago, I didn’t know much about chickens so I think it’s fun to share what I’ve learned. Maybe I should open a petting zoo. LOL. The birds are actually more interesting than you might think.

My egg customer had previously expressed interest in my herbs, which started me considering selling them sometime in the future. However, I am not ready for that step yet so I just gave a few to him. He didn’t recognize fresh herbs so I’d cut each type, put them in separate sandwich bags, told him what they were, and he labeled them. Sometimes I’d say, “This one smells really nice” and he’d take it and smell its aroma. I gave him snippets of sage, oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, and parsley.

We had a bit of rain last Saturday. When EJ and I went out to put the chickens and cats in the coop for the night, I slipped in the soggy, slippery muck (i.e., mud + chicken poop) in the chicken pen and fell on my back. I did not fall fast or hard, and I did not hurt myself at all. EJ said that it looked like I was just slowly and gently lying down in the muck. He exclaimed, “What are you doing???” Lying on my back, I started laughing hard, and I kept laughing as we went into the house, where I got out of the mucky clothes as soon as I could. EJ put the clothes in the washer while I cleaned myself up.

Sometimes when you fall in the muck, you just have to laugh.

 

Ripples

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately.
About the covid-19 virus.
Not directly or specifically about the virus itself.
But about the ripples it has caused in the lives of people.
Including my own.

The splash of a boulder – Photo from Pixabay

In this post, I’m not discussing whether or not the virus was as deadly as we were told, whether or not the Lockdowns were necessary, whether or not others are compassionate if they care about people suffering from non-covid issues. I’m talking about the effects of the virus, which has caused ripples in people’s lives. I imagine the virus being like a boulder thrown into a lake. The boulder causes a huge splash, which causes droplets to hit the water and formed many ripples, which intersected and collide with each other.

Most governors ordered Lockdowns in their states beginning in early Spring. As we all know, businesses were closed, schools were shut down, hospitals were reserved for covid-19 patients, people were told they couldn’t socialize with others, there were shortages in the grocery stores. As a result, people lost jobs or businesses, which means they lost income, which means they struggled to pay bills. For many, this meant that they risked the possibility–or reality–of losing their homes and going hungry. Children were stuck at home, unable to get out in the sunshine and play. Bored, whiny children with no place to expend excess energy is not enjoyable. I think it would be particularly difficult for families shut up in apartments. People with nonvirus related health issues were unable to get care, which means many suffered with a great deal of pain and/or did not receiving life-sustaining treatment. Some people were trapped in a home with their abuser, unable to escape. Not good. There are many other effects that could be listed.

The effects of people losing jobs, or businesses, food shortages, isolation, and everything else causes a great deal of stress, which affects both physical and mental health. There have been enormous increases in anxiety, fear, grief, depression, abuse, suicides.

I think we have all been dealing with these pressures in different ways. Some of us will handle what’s happening in our lives by withdrawing, others by reaching out. There are times when we are strong and can be strong for others, but there are also times when the pressures will be overwhelming and we will breakdown, overreact, or lash out. I’ve pondered how to deal with this–in myself and others. I finally concluded that in these extraordinary times, we need to not take things personally when someone has a meltdown. We need to give plenty of understanding and forgiveness to each other–and that includes to ourselves–when we break down and aren’t as strong as we want to be. I don’t know about you, but I have more difficulty giving understanding and forgiveness to myself than to others.

Another part of all this is that I’ve been observing that as people deal with the challenges in their lives in different ways, the dynamics in relationships are changing. We are each connected to each other, and what affects one person or family, affects those they are close to. Changes in our lives–whether illness, marital status, children, a move, a new job, tragedy–always affects those that are close to us as well as ourselves. It doesn’t mean the changes are bad or that we shouldn’t make them. It just means things shift.

Interconnected Ripples –
Photo from Pixabay

So…I think of how the ripples of the virus are affecting my own life. All my friends and I are affected by the ripples. We are all going through stresses and struggles of various sorts. We are all dealing with it in one way or another. We all have good days and bad–and one friend’s bad day can trigger another’s insecurities. There are days when we are strong and days when we aren’t–it’s messy and difficult if both are weak on the same day. Some friends are withdrawing and restricting their world–which can cause another friend to lose companionship and support. Others are reaching out and expanding–which could make a friend feel left behind or replaced. Some are on social media more–which can help them and others feel connected. Some are on social media less, which can help them feel less overwhelmed, but also make others feel disconnected. I believe that we each have to make the best decisions we can to take care of ourselves in these extraordinary times–and making decisions for ourselves is not wrong–but, even so, there are ripples.

Liminal Space –
Photo from Pixabay

I actually think that I–and probably many others in the world–have entered a “liminal space.” The word “Iiminal” comes from a Latin word meaning “threshold.” It is a point or place of entering or beginning. A liminal space is the time between the ‘what was’ and the ‘next.’ It is a place of transition, a seismic shift, a season of waiting, of not knowing. It is often dark and cavernous, filled with disruption, uncertainty, and struggle, where we don’t know who to become or how to navigate. Think of the period of time between the caterpillar and the butterfly – it is liminal; it is the chrysalis. It is where all transformation takes place, if we learn to wait and let it form us.

My liminal space involves questions such as: My friends have genuine needs–but so do I. How do I respect and support the needs of my friends while also meeting my own needs? What things do I need to let go, and what things do I need to pursue? Which changes will be temporary and which will become permanent? How do I deal with and balance the pain of (possible) losses and the joy of gains? How do I deal with fears and insecurities that are stirred up during this time? Who am I, and who do I want to become? I am trying not to resist changes but instead to see this time as an opportunity for growth. It’s a blank page. What do I write on it and how do I accomplish it?

Liminal spaces can lead to very good things, but they are difficult.

Can I Hear You Now?

We had a couple storms roll in on Saturday and Sunday with dark skies, lightning, and heavy rain. One day we got 1.5 inches of rain! The rain is very good for our gardens. Our Internet was out most of the day on Sunday because of the storms, but we didn’t lose our electricity which is always good.

I have been struggling with a sinus infection over the last few days. I have no fever, but I feel sinus pressure in my face, I am tired, and my left ear keeps getting blocked. I could deal with the sinus pressure and tiredness, but the blocked ear is annoying and makes me feel worse, like I’m shut off from the world. Saturday my ear was blocked all day, but since then it’s been on and off. Ugh. I’ve been taking meds, taking naps with Hannah Joy, drinking hot herbal teas, and EJ has put drops in my ears. I felt like saying, “Can I hear you now?”

My herbs

I haven’t been very motivated, but I have managed to cut some of my herbs and get them drying in the dehydrator. I’ll continue drying herbs throughout the growing season. My sis-in-law freezes her herbs, but we have more shelf space than freezer space.

There is a mouse loose in the house. We’ve seen it a couple of times, and Hannah Joy goes running after it but so far it has escaped. I think that sooner or later, it will be caught…and if Hannah catches it, it will be eaten.

Theo

The outside cats are good at keeping the rodent population down. I’m Millie and Theo don’t kill the song birds as Miss Madeline Meadows, our serial killer cat, used to do. Theo wants to catch the birds, and sometimes leaps at them when they are at the feeders, but so far he has been unsuccessful. I put the plant stands near the feeder to try to make it more difficult for Theo to jump at the feeders. Theo is much better at catching mice, moles, and chipmunks. Millie has caught a few snakes as well as mice.

Millie waiting for the mice

Every evening I go out and shut the chickens and the cats safely in the coop. Theo usually comes running when he hears me, but I always find Millie in the same place, staring at the corner of the house. I had no idea why she did that until one evening she suddenly reach under the siding and caught a mouse while I was watching. I’m sure there must be a nest under the siding. I’ve seen her and Theo with mice in that area a few times. I usually let the cats hunt the mouse for a while before picking them up and carrying them to the coop. I have no problem with letting them kill the mice.

Hannah Joy made me laugh a couple weeks ago. I was typing on my laptop when she suddenly gave a sharp bark that means she wants my attention. I looked up and saw her sitting at the foot of the bed in the bedroom, peering around the half-closed door with a sparkle in her eye, as if she had a surprise for me. When I went into the bedroom, she leaped onto the bed in excitement. I didn’t see anything on the bed, so I looked under the bed and, sure enough, her orange ball was waaaay back near the headboard. I figured she wanted me to get it for her, but it was out of reach so I went and got a yardstick to knock it out from under the bed. As soon as I walked back into the bedroom, she dived under the bed, scooting from the footboard to the headboard and out again with the ball in her mouth. I think she wanted to show me her cleverness in diving under the bed to get her ball. Crazy adorkable dog. LOL.

Hannah Joy likes to steal Kleenex (and other papers) and eat them. Sometimes she steals them from my pocket. She’s also quick to pick up any that drop unnoticed to the floor. Once she gets something in her mouth she won’t let go, and we sometimes have tugs-of-war. They can last for several minutes, with none of us giving in. We were in the middle of a tug-of-war yesterday when I grabbed my nearby camera:

In August 2017, I found a round hole in the ground in the garden. It had smooth sizes and was about the size of my thumb in diameter. I’m guessing at the size–I wasn’t going to stick my thumb in the hole to get a more exact measurement. LOL. I had the garden hose on, and on a whim, I stuck it in the hole, filling it with water. Out popped a VERY large spider, which scared me half to death. I was tempted to kill it, but since it always ducked into its hole when it saw me coming, I decided it wouldn’t be a problem. I think it’s the type of spider that stays in its lair and dashes out to grab food, meaning it wouldn’t be wandering about and getting in the house. I named it Shelob and observed it from a safe distance away. (See 2017 video here if you dare.) Since that time, I’ve occasionally seen the round holes in the yard. There is one now near our deck. I have only sometimes seen a flicker of movement as the spider quickly retreats into its hole.

We’ve had more pleasant visitors in our yard. This morning I woke to see three deer eating the grass in our front yard. I couldn’t get my camera from the other room without disturbing them so I didn’t get any photos. Also, I didn’t want to risk Hannah Joy seeing them and scaring them away with her barking. But they were lovely.

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.

 

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