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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
Today was a beautiful, beautiful sunny day with temperatures up into the low 60s (F). Most of the day I wore just a hoodie and sneakers–no coat, boots, or hat. I walked with Hannah Joy down the driveway at least twice to enjoy the early Spring. All day long the John Denver song, Sunshine on My Shoulder, played in my mind.
We’ve been ordering a few items on-line so we can avoid, as much as possible, going to the stores. UPS allows me to track the delivery truck on-line so that I can watch it getting closer and closer and closer on my computer. When I saw that it was on our road on my screen, I exclaimed, “UPS is almost here!” EJ said, “Yes, it’s on the hill.” “You can see it?” I asked. “It’s coming up the hill.” EJ repeated. I looked out the window, and there was the UPS truck, coming up the driveway. LOL.
One of the things UPS brought us was a set of four motion detector lights. We decided to get the lights for a variety of reasons. EJ put all the lights up today. He had quite an audience when he was installing one near the chicken coop. (We heard some people are stealing chickens.) Many of the chickens gathered around to watch and Theo reached up to get petted. I really love our animals. They all like to hang out with us. They make me feel very loved.
EJ had installed one light on the deck and I’m eager to see if it reveals animals crossing our yard that I might not otherwise notice.
I fastened Hannah Joy’s leash to a T-post so she could be outside with us while we worked. I moved one of the smaller garden boxes near the birdfeeder post, hoping that it will keep Hannah from wrapping her leash around it. Silly dog, she tried to sit in the box. She must think she’s a cat.
For lunch, I made beef bratwurst and potato salad. I made the eggs in the Instant Pot. I made an adjustment or two and they turned out really well AND they were easier to peel. While I was working on the potato salad, EJ asked if I could make coleslaw. So I did. We had bratwurst, potato salad, AND coleslaw. I didn’t take a photo, but it was yummy.
While I was in the kitchen, EJ did a variety of tasks outside. He moved the snowblower to the back of the garage and moved the lawnmower toward the front. Gas is really cheap right now so he went to the gas station to fill the gas cans for the mower. The gas station is at the grocery store, so while there he picked up a few groceries, such as oranges, coffee, and peanut butter.
We just took Hannah Joy outside for the final time tonight (I hope). The stars glittered in the dark sky. The half-moon was like a night-light. We listened. It was very, very quiet. Very peaceful. I wish I could take photos of the beautiful night, but I don’t know how and I don’t have an expensive camera.
Tomorrow the forecast is for rain. I don’t mind. I like sunny days, and I like rainy days.
NOTE: This can be a scary time. If you feel disconnected and alone, need encouragement, or would like prayer, feel free to join my I Love To Go A Gardening Facebook Group.
During these difficult days with Covid-19, some days are more stressful, some are less stressful. The last few days have been less stressful. I keep up on the virus situation, but I also take time to do things that relax me.
One of EJ’s coworkers gave him some Kefir grains a few weeks ago. Kefir is a fermented dairy product similar in many ways to yogurt and buttermilk but instead of heating the milk, adding a culture, and keeping it warm as you do with yogurt, all you need to make kefir are milk and kefir grains. Each day I drain off the “whey,” then add the grains to four cups of milk and set it aside to ferment until the next day. Each day I am making EJ and me blueberry kefir smoothies. I put kefir, honey, blueberries, ice cubes, and a few dashes of cinnamon in the blender until the ice cubes are broken up. I couldn’t find any real ice cube trays so I used mini muffin tins to make the ice cubes.
Yesterday I made Korean Beef and Rice in my Instant Pot. It is delicious, easy to make, and is one of my favorite meals. EJ said that the Asian meals I make taste just as good as any you’d find in a Chinese restaurant.
We’ve had some very beautiful days this week, with lots of sunshine. It looks so nice outside that I feel tempted to put the screens back in the windows so we can open them, and go outside without a coat. However, it’s not THAT warm yet. But it’s getting there. Tomorrow the high is supposed to reach 60 degrees (F). Whoo-hoo!
We looked out of the window today and saw a female turkey emerge out of the forest and sit in the weeds. We were really hoping she wasn’t planning to nest there because it was out in the open not far from the edge of the driveway. But after a minute or two she got up and wandered off. We usually have turkeys nesting on our property. They bring their young up near the house in the late summer, which is always a treat to see.
EJ sat out on the deck today, and I joined him. It was really quite warm in the sunshine. Millie joined us and I brushed her fur. Hannah was a bit upset (jealous) about being left in the house. She likes to be a part of everything.
Hannah Joy really has nothing to complain about. She is with us 98% of the time–cuddling with us, sleeping with us, going on car rides, playing with us, going for walks. Nope, she really shouldn’t be complaining at all.
I know that many, many people around the world are sequestered in their homes because of the Covid-19 virus. Not everyone has a beautiful Enchanted Forest to enjoy. I know of at least one dear friend who cannot leave her apartment. So I thought I’d take her–and all of you–on a walk with Hannah Me and me down our driveway. I was maybe a third of the way down when I began filming.
NOTE: This can be a scary time. If you feel disconnected and alone, need encouragement, or would like prayer, feel free to join my I Love To Go A Gardening Facebook Group.
How are you all doing?
We are doing mostly good with occasional spikes of anxiety/stress. There’s a lot of uncertainty in the world right now. Our government is now telling us that we need to stay home until the end of April to reduce the spread of the virus. I think it’s more difficult for Extroverts than Introverts like me, but it’s still not easy to not go wherever or whenever we want, to have to be concerned about “social distancing,” to not have the stores fully stocked, and to know there’s an infectious virus lurking out there.
EJ just went back to work after a week home sick. he video conferences with his doctor this morning and she believed he may have a “bug” going around out there, but definitely not the Covid-19 virus. I get anxious about EJ’s health and our finances. I have to remind myself every now and then to “breathe” and trust God. When I don’t remember, I have friends who help me remember. 🙂 We really do have so many good things in our lives.
At about 4:30 am yesterday we lost our power for a few hours. I am not sure why. I woke up when it came back on at 7 am but we didn’t get our internet back until an hour later. I felt very disconnected from the world, and I thought that, wow, I would have no way to contact many of my friends around the world if I ever lost the Internet permanently. Yikes. My life would be dimmer without them. I am concerned for my friends in various places in the USA and the world. I try to check on them often, especially those I know who are high-risk and alone. I wish I could whisk some of them away to our Enchanted Forest to keep them safe and cared for. If you feel alone, need encouragement, or would like me to pray for you, feel free to join my I Love To Go A Gardening Facebook Group.
This afternoon a guy EJ knows stopped by to give us some beef heart, tongue, liver–various cow parts that I told EJ that I will never eat unless I’m totally starving, even if they are supposedly very healthy. They sound gross to me so EJ will have to cook and eat them himself. The guy also gave EJ some information about beekeeping if we can ever afford the startup costs. EVERY hobby is expensive to begin, it seems. I think it would be awesome to keep bees even though I’m a bit scared of getting stung–but I think that I can learn not to be scared, right? I love honey, and I find the legends about bees interesting. My favorite is an old superstition that says you have to tell the bees when something big happens—a birth, a death, a marriage, a move–or they would move away or die. I talk to Hannah Joy, the cats, and the chickens, so I would have no problem talking to bees, just for fun.
EJ went outside (maintaining social distance) to chat with the guy and showed him our garden and chickens. The guy said we had an awesome setup. I think we do too, but it’s always nice to hear others say so. 🙂 We gave him three dozen eggs as a thank you for his gifts.
The weather is still cool, but our snow is all melted. The lilac bush is beginning to bud and the lilies are poking their heads up from the dirt. We’ve also seen sandhill cranes flying overhead. It’s still too early to plant a garden, but Spring is creeping in.
I don’t walk Hannah Joy to the mailbox in the winter because she sometimes gets a wild look on her face and goes running back and forth on her leash. I don’t want to risk having her pull me off my feet. I slipped and fell in the driveway a couple years ago and broke bones in my wrist; I do not want to have that happen again. But with the snow all gone, we restarted our walks. Hannah loves it.
Hannah keeps us laughing. She is not a very patient dog. When she wants something, she wants it NOW. If I don’t immediately give her what she wants, she gets on my lap and paws at me, and wiggles, and then starts to complain. I caught her on video. Just for the record, I feed Hannah twice a day. I feed her first thing when we get up in the morning and then I feed her between 5-6 pm in the evenings. Plus, she gets treats. She sometimes thinks she should eat earlier in the evening.
Theo our outside cat stayed in the fenced-in garden/coop all winter, but he’s been venturing out now that the weather is getting nicer. A couple days ago EJ and I watched a flock of wild turkeys in the back yard. They suddenly took off half running and half flying and we saw Theo chasing them. After a few seconds, he started to run back the other way as if he suddenly thought, “Oh, crap! What am I doing?” Theo is a very affectionate cat. He always greets me when I go out into the garden and follows me around while I do my chores. In the last couple of weeks, he’s been leaping onto my back and riding around on my shoulders. I finally got him doing it on video, as best as I could:
I’m glad that since we have to stay at home, I have the Enchanted Forest to stay home in.
This morning arrived with heavy fog, making everything look beautifully mysterious. Once the fog burned off, the day was mostly sunny with the temperature forecast to reach around 50 degrees (F). It looks as if we are getting an early Spring. I sure hope so because I’d like to open the windows and work in the garden. Last year we had a late Winter and were still getting garden-killing frost in early June. I’m a little envious of people in the South who are enjoying warmer weather and are able to plant their gardens, but I don’t envy the very hot weather they have in the summer.
EJ was sent home three hours early on Tuesday night because he wasn’t feeling well. He believes he just has a cold, but he stayed off work all week just to make sure it’s nothing more. He didn’t want to take any risks for himself or others. He not feeling very well today, but has no fever so…It’s amazing how every little symptom takes on ominous undertones at this time.
Today is EJ’s birthday. We are just having a quiet day at home because of EJ’s health and the Governor’s “stay home” orders. I was going to make him a cheesecake, but we don’t have any graham crackers for the crust. I made him pumpkin raisin muffins for breakfast. I would have let him choose what he wants for lunch/dinner, but because he is not feeling well, I made him chicken soup and dumplings.
We don’t mind staying home, but it sure is weird that we can’t just leave home whenever we want to go wherever we want and buy whatever we want. Our little grocery store is going to “curbside service” only starting on Monday. Meijers is no longer open 24/7. They are allowing senior citizens and/or those with chronic health problems to shop Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-8 a.m., which I thought was nice, but after seeing a video about the crowds of such people lining up and entering a store in a Michigan town, I decided that I wouldn’t go then even if I were eligible. I’m rather fascinated with the way people are reacting to the virus. Some are acting in appalling ways, hoarding, or stealing, or refusing to stay at home. but others are being kind and helpful.
I am very thankful for the Internet because even though we are disconnected, I feel connected. I can keep updated on what’s happening “out there” and also connect with friends across the country and around the world. I’m also enjoying all the creative or funny ways that people are reaching out. For example, Rotterdam Philharmonisch Orkest shared a video of them all playing from their individual homes. and a comedic group from Ireland made a funny video about a teacher trying to teach his students online during the coronavirus. And there’s a sweet video about a little foal named Tallulah’s first day outside. It’s a celebration of life. I don’t feel disconnected when I’m able to connect with so many.
I’m still trying to figure out if or how I can share my chicken eggs with those in need. Since we are supposed to social distance so we don’t spread the virus, and since the virus can survive on surfaces for several days…Well, I don’t want to risk infections, either from or to us, especially with EJ not feeling well. I’m not going to do anything about the eggs until he is healthy.
EJ said that he read that people are beginning to steal chickens! I don’t mind sharing my eggs, but I prefer to keep my chickens! I feel like cautioning my roosters to use their “inside voices” so they don’t crow to the world that they are here. To quote Elmer Fudd: “Shhhh! Be wery, wery, qwiet.”
Millie and Theo, our outside cats, are very affectionate. Millie enjoys roaming our property. Theo seems to feel safer in the fenced-in garden. Mille is sort of making friends with Hannah Joy, but Theo is deathly afraid of her. He always runs up to me when he sees me. Lately, he’s been unexpectedly leaping onto my back as I walk to the coop. It’s always a bit of surprise to suddenly find a weight on my back. Theo also likes to sometimes climb on top of the coop roof.
This morning we moved our patio table onto the deck so if/when it gets warm enough outside, we can go out and sit in the sunshine.
The melted snow has uncovered a Winter’s accumulation of Hannah Joy’s poop. I’m thinking about going out shoveling it out of the way before it becomes a soupy mess when it rains tomorrow. However, I’m not sure I’m that motivated. I feel more like dozing in the sun in my chair like Hannah Joy is.
How is everyone doing?
Monday our Michigan Governor ordered everyone to stay at home to stop the spread of Covid-19. For at least the next three weeks, individuals may only leave their home under very limited circumstances, and they must adhere to social distancing measures recommended by the CDC. People can go to the grocery store, pharmacy, gas stations or pick up take-out food. They can seek medical care for themselves or their pets. They can go on walks, hikes, runs, or biking as long as they maintain social distancing.
Businesses cannot remain open unless they perform an essential service. EJ believes that most machine shops are closed, and he thought his company would also close, but it turns out that his machine shop makes vital parts so he is still working. EJ said that if it wasn’t that we need his paycheck, he would have really enjoyed staying home. I’m relieved he is still working so we don’t have money to worry about, although I’m concerned about him staying healthy.
EJ told me this morning that driving home in the wee hours of the morning was very weird because there were almost no cars on the road. Usually, there is much more traffic, especially on main streets and roads. He texted me during his break tonight that his company gave him a “don’t arrest this guy” letter to prove that his job is essential and he has permission to travel to/from work. Just in case it’s needed.
EJ also texted that a guy he works with is married to a nurse who cared for the first covid-19 case in our county. So the guy (and his wife?) is now in quarantine and won’t be back for at least 15 days. Neither he nor his wife show symptoms but, of course, he could still be a carrier if he’s infected. Hopefully, he is not and/or they got him into quarantine soon enough.
It feels a bit weird to realize that we are no longer free to travel whenever and wherever we want, but I enjoy my home and life remains mostly normal for me. I think that when tough times hit, there is often an initial shock, but after that, we just adjust and carry on. Meijers has changed their hours so EJ is no longer able to stop in for a few groceries on his way home from work. It had been nice because at 3 am there aren’t a lot of people. As much as possible, I buy items we need on-line. Many stores are offering curbside pickup. I’m still trying to figure out how that works.
I’m chatting with friends on-line and checking up on them. I have friends in various states and countries and it’s interesting finding out what is happening in their part of the world. Plus, I really care about them all and they are an encouragement to me.
Today’s high temperature was near 50 degrees (F). We now have almost no snow in our Enchanted Forest. The neighbors across the road have a different experience. Their snow always lasts far longer than ours because their hill faces north and doesn’t get the warm sun as much as we do. You can see our snowless property and their snowy hill in the photo.
Hannah Joy is enjoying the warmer temperatures. With the snow gone, I’ve been walking her down the driveway to our mailbox. She loves it. She is a bit of a handful though because she’s always sniffing around for stuff to eat–desirable to her but undesirable to me. Things like deer poop. Yuck. I have to remain diligent and pull her away when she finds stuff. Sometimes she sits down and refuses to budge. She also wants outside more frequently lately, grumbling until I take her, and then she just snuffles around–I think looking for more (un)desirable things to eat.
Some of the chickens were enjoying sunning themselves in the dirt today. The older chickens go outside more often than the younger ones. The younger ones were hatched later in the summer last year. They were too little to go outside before winter–and all of my chickens prefer staying in the coop during the cold wintry weather. I’m sure the young’uns will adjust to the great outdoors when the weather turns warmer. I think it’s rather peaceful watching the chickens.
I had been selling my extra eggs but I’m not sure what to do now that Michiganders are told to stay at home. My 17 hens are laying 8-12 eggs (and a couple of times 15 eggs) each day, which is many, many more than we can use. There are many people out of work. I’m wondering how I can get the extra eggs to people who might need them without any of us leaving home. I don’t want to risk infection–for them or us–and I don’t want to end up throwing the eggs out when people might need them. I’m thinking of contact0ing the admin of our town FB group and seeing if something can be worked out. We shall see.
How are you all today?
I know a lot of people are very scared. I understand and I empathize. To quote Thomas Paine, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” It’s easy to get anxious when there is uncertainty and a constant barrage of bad news. No need to be immersed in it 24/7, so I’ve been cutting back on my exposure to it. I’ve also been chatting with friends and spending time doing things that I enjoy. I’d like to share a bit of the peaceful day I had today in our Enchanted Forest.
I was going to take a photo showing how the warm days we’ve had melted most of our snow. However, I woke up this morning to snow. With Hannah Joy fast asleep on my lap, I sat in my chair, sipping coffee and watching the snowfall as I listened to The Shire, A Peaceful Night in Bag End – Relaxing Evening Rain on Youtube today. When I want peaceful music, I listen to Shire music. It makes me think of peaceful gardens, gentle Hobbits, and beautiful homes with round doors.
The Piano Guys posted an interesting and fun article about the power of music called Darth Maul, Coronavirus and the Power of Music. They wrote:
So what do you feed your soul? Whatever you feed it connects to your body’s health, your state of mind, and your general well being. Your stress level affects your immune system which affects your health. Your mood affects your mind which affects your resilience. It’s all connected. And one of the EASIEST ways to improve your general well being is listening to the right music at the right time.
Because we try to live frugally, we always buy items when they are on sale. Meijers often has “10 items for $10” sales on a variety of items. We also buy canned goods each autumn when our little grocery store around the corner has sales on cases of canned goods. And when there is meat on sale at the stores, we buy several packages, divide them into meal-sized portions, and freeze them until we need them. So we are doing pretty well at the moment. There are a few items that we still need, such as flour, sugar, milk, fresh vegetables, but we aren’t panic-buying. We take one or two now and then and leave the rest for others.
EJ works ten-hour days Monday through Thursday. His Thursday ends at 3 am on Friday morning and he gets the rest of the weekend off. He had planned to just sleep a couple hours this morning so we could get to Meijers early to do some shopping but I knew he was really tired so I just let him sleep in. When he woke up, we decided to forget Meijers. EVERYBODY shops at Meijers and there was no guarantee that the items we wanted to get would be there. We went instead to our little grocery store, which is only a couple miles away. There were a few empty spots, but most of the shelves were full, and we got everything we wanted except the yeast for EJ’s bread. I had ordered yeast on-line a few days ago, but the company emailed that there would be a delay because of high demand. However, when we got home, I found an email that the yeast had been shipped so…Yay! It will be here in a few days.
After we got the groceries put away, I began preparing lunch, but EJ had to finish it. We have a flock of 20 chickens–3 roosters and 17 hens–which is enough to keep us supplied with eggs and enables us to sell what we cannot use. I have two regular customers. One of them came this morning to pick up some eggs. I asked how he was doing, and he said he was doing well. He feels as we do–that all we really can do is take precautions but then we just need to hunker down and wait out the virus.
One of EJ’s co-workers gave him some Kefir grains. Kefir is a fermented milk drink similar to a thin yogurt that is made from kefir grains, a specific type of culture of living micro-organisms. EJ calls them “mitochondria” which in Star Wars were linked to potential in the Force. Kefir is believed to be a more powerful probiotic than yogurt and to have many health benefits. When it ferments, we strain it to separate the culture from the liquid. We put the culture in new milk to start a new batch and drink the Kefir liquid or use it in recipes. Today I made blueberry smoothies with our Kefir liquid. It was quite yummy. My friend told me that she has made a delicious bread with Kefir. I would like to try it, but I might wait until flour is more plentiful so I don’t waste it if our bread doesn’t turn out.
I hadn’t stopped filling the bird feeders a week or so ago because the warmer weather was waking up the bears. Someone who lived only a couple miles from us had posted on FB that there had been a bear in her driveway. Hungry bears like eating from birdfeeders. However, because of the snow, I decided to put feed out for the birds today. It wasn’t long before the deer came trotting in. We had seven deer eating the seed! They didn’t leave any for bears.
I took a video today when I went out to gather the eggs from the chickens. As always, Theo and Millie ran to greet me when I opened the garage door. The chickens also usually run up to greet me too when they are outside, but they don’t like snow so they stayed in their coop today. I really enjoy interacting with my flock of chickens and cats. They all live quite peacefully together in the coop and garden.
Finally, but not least, I am comforted by sharing my anxieties with God. I’ve been focusing on Bible verses such as these:
…So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For…your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt 6)
The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:5-7)
These things all help me regain a sense of perspective and peace in these uncertain times.
Yesterday I wrote that today’s current events become tomorrow’s history and that history isn’t just a bunch of facts to be memorized for a school test but is actually about the stories of people who lived through it. So how are you all doing? Feel free to share your stories here.
I’m not all that anxious about the Covid-19 virus. I think of it much as I do a bad thunderstorm or snowstorm: We do all we can to prepare for bad storms, but beyond that, all we can do is hunker down and ride it out. I’m more concerned with how all the closures, cancellations, and shortages at grocery stores are affecting people, local businesses, and communities. I get very upset by people who take advantage of others, such as the two brothers (in Kentucky, I think) who went to several towns in their area and bought up 17,000 bottles of hand sanitizer, which they sold on Amazon for $8 to $70 each. As soon as Amazon realized this, they banned them, and the guys received so much negative reaction that they ended up donating the remainder of their items, but the fact they were so greedy is reprehensible to me. There are reports of others doing the same sort of thing. Thankfully, there are also reports of people doing kind things, taking care of others.
I’m feeling quite a bit of anxiety, but I struggle with anxiety anyway, mostly because of PTSD caused by emotional abuse. In fact, I had determined late last year that 2020 would be the year I would battle to overcome anxiety and pursue peace and joy. I think that whenever a person tries to overcome something, the battles can get fierce so I sort of expected some difficult days. I had hoped for a quiet, uneventful year to recover and regain my well-being, not this global chaos but…it is what it is.
Are you struggling with anxiety?
Here are a couple article about coping with anxiety:
Whenever I feel my anxiety rise, I’ve been stepping away from the constant flood of news. I talk to God a lot and hold on to truths that He is in control. I try to keep things in perspective. I also breathe, soak in the quiet beauty of my Enchanted Forest, and cuddle with Hannah Joy, I do activities I enjoy, such as crocheting, writing, reading, watching light-hearted programs on Netflix and Amazon Prime, taking care of my flock of chickens. I seek out opportunities to laugh–because laughter is powerful. I remember years ago I read an article in Reader’s Digest magazine written by a former Vietnam POW about his experiences. He said that whenever a new prisoner arrived at the prison, as soon as they could, they would tell him that it was very important to keep a sense of humor even in the midst of all the suffering. Prisoners didn’t last long once they lost their ability to laugh. So I laugh at funny memes, cute animal videos, and my friends. Wait! I mean I don’t laugh AT my friends. I laugh WITH them.
I love the Piano Guys. Their love of music and creativity is a joy to watch. I’m going to leave you with their song, “It’s Going to Be OK.”
One of the things that I greatly value that my parents taught me is a love for history. My Dad never took us vacationing to amusement parks. Instead, we always went to historical places such as Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan, or Fort Necessity in Pennsylvania. As we toured historical places, my Mom would tell us to imagine living as those people did: “Imagine having to cook your meals over a fire like this,” she’d say. “Imagine having to shear sheep, spin the wool into yarn, weave it into cloth, and then sew your clothes. Imagine reading by candlelight. Imagine traveling across the plains in a covered wagon. Imagine living during the days of the Revolutionary or Civil Wars.” Imagine, imagine, imagine. My parents taught me that history isn’t just a bunch of facts to be memorized for a school test. History is actually about the stories of people who lived through it.
My parents didn’t just teach me about the past. They also taught me that today’s current events are tomorrow’s history. Every day we are living history. I remember watching the TV broadcast of President Nixon’s resignation in 1974. I thought it was boring, but my Mom insisted we sit and watch it because “This is history.” I am glad she did that because I can now look back and say, “I watched Nixon resign.”
Through the years, I have been aware that I am living through events that will become history. I have lived through big events such as Nixon’s resignation, the first moon landing, the Challenger explosion, President Reagan getting shot (I saved a newspaper from that day), 9/11, and fears over Y2K.
I have also lived through small personal events: I remember that our neighbor had the first color TV in our neighborhood. She invited us over and we all watched Lassie Come Home in color for the first time! I woke up at my neighbor’s house the next morning because I fell asleep watching the TV.
I remember that my Dad had the first home computer of anyone I knew. He couldn’t just download a new program, he had to type in pages and pages of code from a magazine. One typo would cause the program to not run correctly. We spent hours trying to find that one little mistake. My Dad also ran a “bulletin board,” which was a precursor to websites. In order to access a computer bulletin board, a person put the handset of their phone into a “modem” and called our phone number. We had only one phone line so we could either have the bulletin board running OR make/receive personal calls–not both.
I remember the first game system we had, which was called a Magnavox Odyssey. It was so simple that each game came with a plastic overlay to put on the TV screen. To play Pong we’d put a tennis court overlay on the TV, and we had a haunted house overlay which I think was used for Pac Man.
I remember how crazy people got about Cabbage Patch Dolls. JJ laughed at me a few years ago when I got up early to watch the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. I told him that I was watching it because “This is history.”
The Covid-19 virus is history in the making. It’s not just that “in 2020 the world experienced a pandemic.” It’s about the stories of people who are currently living through it. It is part of history that the quarantined Italians are singing from their balconies to lift their spirits and a wedding was celebrated from balconies in Israel. I’m very interested in hearing my friends’ stories of what they are experiencing in their part of the country or world because it’s part of history. My stories of how EJ and I are experiencing it and YOUR stories are also part of history. If you can, write your stories down because all of our stories will become part of the historical record of this event. Someday people may be as interested in reading our stories as they are in reading the stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder.
I’ve been pondering what to write about today. Of course, right now the whole world is focused on the Covid-19 (Corona) virus. It’s impacting everything from work, school, shopping, travel, special events. It fills the news, social media, conversations. I considered not writing about it since everyone else is writing or talking about it. But then I thought, no, since this blog is about my daily life in Northern Michigan, and this virus is affect my life, I’d write about it. Somewhat.
Over the years, I have occasionally read stories about people lost in the wilderness or facing some other survival situation. We also used to play a game called “Survival.” It’s sort of like Trivial Pursuit only the questions are about what to do in various situations: such as, what do you do if you are bitten by a poisonous snake, or drink poison, or are lost in the wilderness, or have frostbite. The real goal of the game was to educate a person on how to handle these various situations. Do you know the most important thing to do no matter what the crises is? It’s to stay calm. Don’t panic. If you panic, you can’t think clearly.
I know that people are scared in these uncertain times, and I have empathy for them. I know there are all sorts of statistics, and percentages, out there. But I’d like to offer a little bit of calmness and perspective.
The last update I saw, there were over 3,000 Covid-19 virus cases in the U.S. with a death toll of around 61. CBS News wrote, “While more than half of the roughly 137,000 people who’ve caught the virus worldwide have already recovered, the toll in human lives is staggering. More than 4,700 people have died, including at least 51 people in the U.S. — and it’s expected to get much worse before it gets better.” Scary, huh? But let’s break this down.
Each death is tragic for the families. In the USA, as far as numbers go for Covid-19, the numbers are NOT staggering. Out of a population of 327 million in the USA, 3,000 sick and less than 100 dead is not that many. In fact, the infections and deaths from Covid-19 are far fewer than that of an average flu season. The CDC estimates that influenza has resulted in between 9 million to 45 million illnesses, between 140,000 to 810,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 – 61,000 deaths annually since 2010.
In addition, the infections/deaths from Covid-19 are much lower than other serious viruses in the past, as shown in the chart. Pause and think about all these numbers for a moment.
If you add in worldwide infections/deaths from Covid-19 then you need to take into account that not every country has good sanitation, nutrition, or healthcare, which could affect a people’s ability to fight disease. So, of course, the infections/deaths would be higher in those countries, which will affect the overall statistics. Countries with better nutrition and healthcare will certainly have fewer deaths.
Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai, an MIT scientist and researcher on the human immune system, explained viruses in this video:
“Ok,” some people say, “but you just wait, it’s going to get much worse…” Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. EJ and I have always told ourselves when facing a hard thing–a life situation or potentially serious health problem–“let’s not worry until we have something definite to worry about. And when we have something definite to worry about, then we will take steps to deal with it.” We have lived through several scary situations, and most of them weren’t as bad as forecast. I remember that there were times when I was a child that so many students and teachers were sick from the flu that school districts closed for a week or so. No one panicked.
There have been deadly viruses in the past so, potentially, we could one day experience another deadly virus. Will the current virus infect/kill as many as those in the past? Maybe, but the numbers don’t seem to indicate it. I will take normal precautions, but I will worry about the Covid-19 virus when I feel I have something to worry about.
However, let’s imagine that the Covid-19 virus becomes the most deadly virus in the history of the planet. We will still pretty much need to deal with a serious virus in the same way that we need to deal with a mild one:
And most importantly, DON’T PANIC. Keep calm. I actually think the panic is causing more harm and suffering than the actual virus. People are hoarding, making items less available to others, which is causing more panic. Yet, the factories are still making toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and other items just as they did a month ago. With all the cancellations and closures, businesses will suffer. People could lose their jobs. Listen to what one doctor says:
Here are a few other really good articles that I think are rational and calm:
At the end of 2019, I decided, determined, resolved, that the year 2020 would be a year of healing, rebirth, and rediscovery. I am determined to have no toleration of toxic behaviors. I am resolved to pursue a life of peace and joy, making my life a work of art.
“How’s it going?” you ask? Ok, maybe you didn’t ask. But I will tell you. It is going mostly well, although I have to fight for the life I want. I have good days with a few bad days mixed in.
I’ve often read that a person can’t recover from abuse while still experiencing ongoing abuse. I know it is true. However, the journey is difficult even after a person has left an abusive situation because the abuser has wreaked all sorts of damage in her (or his) psyche and their “voice” is still in her head, belittling, insulting, undermining, devaluing. I think abuse is like a disaster–tornado, hurricane, earthquake, fire. While the disaster is happening, a person is just trying to survive the brutal chaos. Afterward, there’s a sense of relief that, hey, we made it! But the disaster has caused terrible destruction, and now comes the difficult task of rebuilding–of sorting through what can be saved, grieving losses that can’t be salvaged, replacing the ruined with the new, building stronger than before. There’s a myriad of emotions: relief, despair, grief, weariness, anger, determination, courage, hope, acceptance, growth.
Last week I had a few emotionally rough days. I have bad dreams pretty much every night, usually involving our relatives, and I often wake up rather sad. After a few minutes and a cup or two of coffee, I can usually readjust my outlook and I am ok for the rest of the day. Occasionally, however, depression/anxiety takes over, and it can take several days of fierce battles to regain my well-being. Often it’s a little thing that triggers the rough day: a bad dream, a memory, a guilting meme, an unexpected expense, a heartbreaking story in the news, an encounter with cruelty… I have days when I think, “I’ve got this!” and days when I think that I will never make it through. I have days when I think, “I really like who I am becoming!” and days when I looked at myself with loathing.
It’s rather odd because I struggle with depression and anxiety, but at the same time, I get lost in the beauty and wonder of the world around me. I deeply love simple things: wildlife eating from the birdfeeder, the stars at night, sunrises and sunsets, wildflowers, the contented clucking of the chickens, the purring of cats, Hannah Joy’s quirks and foibles that make me giggle, spending time with EJ. I love learning new things: I am having a wonderful time experimenting with different recipes with my Instant Pot, which a friend gave us for Christmas. I love learning about the world around me–plants and animals, history, the cultures of different countries. I am awed by the amazing talents and creativity of people. I am overwhelmed by their love and humbled when they trust me enough to share their heartaches with me. Sometimes when a friend shares something silly or “stupid” that she has done, I laugh–not in ridicule, but in absolute delight–because I love people’s quirks, which I think makes them wonderfully unique from anyone else.
For example, once a friend told me that she woke in the night feeling not-so-great, so she went into the bathroom to take an Airborne tablet. Airborne is supposed to help enhance the immune system and reduce colds and such. Only she didn’t realize that you had to wait for the tablet to dissolve in water. She thought it was chewable so she ate it…and her mouth started foaming. She grabbed a glass of water, but the more she drank, the more her mouth foamed. So she’s standing there with foam bubbling from her mouth. She laughed so hard that she could barely tell the story, and I laughed so hard listening to it that tears ran down my face. Quirks like this make me think, “This is why I love you. You are so uniquely and wonderfully yourself!”
If each person’s life could be compared to a small candle, then one of the things I hate most about abusers is that they try to extinguish others’ lights–they destroy the very qualities that makes their victims so unique and wonderful. They extinguish laughter, hope, talent, love. It’s as if they believe that in extinguishing others’ lights their own will shine brighter. How appalling! I have less and less tolerance for people who try to destroy the beautiful light of others. They are truly destroyers of light.
Survivors of abuse have been taught that their little light has no value, that it’s inadequate and pathetic. It’s not true! I want to increasingly help others to rekindle their flickering flame, to see the beautiful light in themselves: I try to tell them that “I see your love and sacrifice. Don’t apologize for your sense of humor. You are delightfully funny and witty. Don’t think your gifts are pathetic, you are wonderfully creative. Don’t hate your quirks and foibles, they are what makes you so unique! You don’t have to be the same as everyone else: Let your little light shine.”
EJ and I have always cared about other people. We have always tried to be careful to respect others’ rights and boundaries and to never cause them pain. But it has taken us a long time to recognize that our own little lights have value and also deserve to be protected, nurtured, and to shine. We also deserve to have our rights and boundaries respected, to voice our opinions, to make our own choices, and we don’t have to tolerate those who cause pain and try to extinguish our beauty.
To me, recovery is threefold. It involves nurturing my own little light, it involves helping others shine their lights, and it involves defending our lights against those who would try to blow them out. I think that the more lights that shine, the more the darkness is diminished.
The weather continues to be rather weird. Today the temperature was in the 40s. It felt very warm outside. This afternoon it began to….I’m not sure if it’s rainy snow or snowy rain. The forecast calls for the possibility of rain/snow for the next few days. I think the rain is a sign that Spring is not too far away. There is a sort of excited hopefulness that occurs in February and March even though there could still be weeks of Winter left. February/March is when we begin to dream of planting gardens even if there are several feet of snow on the ground.
Our animals have been a bit goofy too.
When Hannah Joy sees me going through my before-bed routine, she goes into the bedroom and settles down in the bed. If EJ is home, Hannah first goes over to say good night to him, and then he says, “Go to bed, Hannah” and off she goes. It’s really quite sweet. Hannah and I always go to bed well before EJ because he tries to stay up until the wee hours of the morning to keep to his work-week routine. Sometimes Hannah goes to bed before I do, which is what I thought she was doing last night. But when I finally went into the bedroom, I saw a roll of toilet paper on the floor. I can’t remember exactly how much there had been, but it was considerably smaller so I suspect she ate about half a mega-roll of toilet paper. Today she frequently wanted me to take her outside so she could poop it out. Sigh. At least it all came out. Sometimes she has Kleenex sticking from her behind and I have to wait until it all comes out before I take her back into the house. She always looks so pathetically ashamed when that happens.
EJ told me today that while I was out doing business with my new egg customer yesterday, Hannah Joy was in the house trying to steal Kleenex out of my sweater pocket. We try to keep Kleenex, toilet paper, washcloths, and towels out of her reach, but she is a clever “pit-pocket.” Most people have to child-proof their homes, we have to Hannah-proof ours.
I am expecting one of my egg customers to stop by tonight to pick up seven dozen, some of which she said she is giving to her mother. I’m glad she is buying so many because my chickens are laying eggs like crazy. This afternoon when I went out to the coop, I found ten eggs. There was a hen in their favorite nesting box so I left her alone. I went out a couple of hours later to check the box and I saw eyes looking out at me. I thought, “Oops, another hen is in there laying an egg.” The hens don’t lay more than one a day, but they use the same nesting places. Anyway, something looked “off” so I looked closer and saw that there wasn’t a hen in there. There was a CAT! It was Millie. I got her out of the box and discovered that she had been sitting on five eggs. LOL.
I try to keep my camera in my pocket for moments like these, but I had forgotten so I had no photos. However, when I went out in the evening to shut everyone up in the coop, I found Millie in the nesting box again. This time I had my camera with me so I took a picture. The nesting box is actually a litter box, which the cats do NOT use as a litter box.
Our chickens and barn cats co-exist peacefully. Every now and then a cat will swat a chicken or a chicken will peck a cat in order to set a boundary but, otherwise, they get along. I’ve even seen a cat and chicken sleeping next to each other. Animals seem to figure out who “belongs” in their family.
My animals make me laugh and bring me joy. I don’t know what I’d do without them. 🙂
Today is mostly sunny and warm–in the 40s! (That’s Fahrenheit, not Celsius.) We still have plenty of snow on the ground, but there are actually a few bare spots in the driveway.
I’m dreaming of an early Spring. I like Winter, but I can’t wait to plant our garden. 🙂 Also, about this time each year, the county conservation districts have their annual tree sales. Up until this year, we haven’t been able to buy trees because this is also the time of year when we have to do taxes, pay for our vehicle registration, and take Hannah Joy to her yearly vet visit. But this year we splurged just a little and ordered one bundle each of Norway Spruces and elderberry bushes. Each bundle includes five trees. The Norway Spruce trees are supposed to be insect resistant and will replace our dying evergreens, which we believe were killed by insects. We wanted elderberries because they have a lot of health benefits. The Norway Spruces were $8.25 each bundle and the elderberries were $16.50 for a bundle–an awesome price for so many trees! We would have loved to order a couple bundles of each as well as hazelnut trees, serviceberry bushes, maybe some mulberry trees…but, baby steps. The trees will be ready to be picked up at the end of April.
Today a new customer came to buy three dozen eggs. Hopefully, he will become a regular customer because my chickens are laying about 6-10 eggs each day! I’m trying to balance the eggs we need for ourselves with the eggs my customers need so that it comes out even–with neither too many or too few for us. I mean, I don’t want to have so many customers that we don’t have any for us and we have to buy our eggs at the grocery store. That would be silly. But I don’t want to have dozens of dozens filling my fridge either. Balance. Everything is about balance.
Today I saw a drama outside my window that made me laugh. Our cat Millie is sweet so I’m assuming she wasn’t trying to be a jerk–but she was being kind of a jerk. A group of three deer came up to eat the birdseed, but Millie stayed near the feeders, not at all concerned that they were far bigger than she. She made the deer nervous so they didn’t want to come closer. Finally, they walked away, one deer stomping her foot in irritation as she left. I took a series of photos of the encounter.
What’s worse is that Millie did the same thing with another group of deer who came by a couple of hours later. None of the deer coming to eat the birdseed today have been successful because of Millie. LOL.
We sure have had some crazy weather this winter. Wednesday and Thursday we were under a Winter Storm Warming. It snowed steadily for those two days with strong winds that blew the slow around and caused whiteout conditions. But yesterday the temperatures began to rise and today it reached almost 50 degrees! Of course, the snow began to melt. This has been the pattern all winter long: days of cold/snow/wind followed by days of warmth/melting snow. This is a video I took of the snow on Thursday.
The shortest route to the coop is through our attached garage and through the back door into the garden. This morning as I headed out to the coop to care for the chickens and cats, I heard a noise in the southeast corner of the garage. It sounded as if there was something there, probably an animal of some sort: raccoon? mouse? rat? stray cat? I started to go over to check it out, but then I remembered that in every scary movie, a victim(s) always hears a noise and goes over to check it out and gets killed by the monster, alien, or serial killer. I don’t normally watch scary movies, but I have seen a few, and I always want to cry out a warning: “Duh. Do NOT go check out the strange noise!” So this time I took my own advice and continued out to the coop. I’m my way back into the house, I paused in the garage to listen, but I didn’t hear anything, so I think the “whatever-it-was” left. I did go outside the garage and look for footprints in the snow, but I didn’t see any. I was going to tell EJ about the “thing” in the garage as soon as he woke, but I forgot until tonight.
My chickens are laying so many eggs now that I posted them for sale at FB Marketplace and area buy/sell groups. I’ve gotten a few interested nibbles. But I also got a couple people wanting to buy my chickens. I replied politely but I was thinking that, uh, my posting clearly stated that I was selling the EGGS, not the CHICKENS. One guy, besides wanting to buy my chickens asked if I’d sell him the eggs for $5 total (instead of $9) if he bought three dozen. I was thinking that takes a bit of audacity to expect me to sell them for almost half price. I don’t really make money on my eggs–I am just selling the excess eggs and the money merely helps with the cost of the feed. I answered him politely but I let him know that (1) I’m not selling my chickens and (2) No, I’m not giving their eggs away. Sheesh. If he wants cheaper eggs he should go buy them at Wal-mart.
We are still trying to get rid of the mice that get into our kitchen cupboard. EJ’s trap under the sink caught a mouse the first night he set it, but after that the other mouse kept springing the trap and eating the bait without getting caught. The mouse (or mice) is so clever that we named it Savoir Faire, after the cartoon mouse from our childhood. The cartoon involved a battle of wits between Savoir Faire and Klondike Kat. Of course, the mouse usually outwitted the cat and so far our mouse is outwitting us. But like Klondike Kat, we aren’t giving up.
This afternoon EJ, Hannah Joy, and I drove to Goodwill so EJ could buy some new pants for work. He didn’t find any pants, but he did get a sweatshirt for work. I bought a couple washcloths, dishcloths, dish towels, and hand towels to replace the ones Hannah has chewed up. On the way home, we made a quick stop at Meijers to get a few grocery items. I had found a coupon for “buy one, get one free” cups of coffee at Biggby’s on the Internet, but we decided not to save our money. We are moving in to “No Spend March,” in which we are frugally buying as little as we possibly can. “No Spend March” is following No Spend November, December, January, and February. It’s become something of a challenge.