Life….

This week is going to be very tough and stressful. In the midst of a difficult week, we are having a happy thing so I thought I’d write about that today. I’ll write about the other stuff tomorrow…or the next day.

Since we have a few regular customers buying our extra chicken eggs, we thought we’d increase our flock. Getting chicks at this time of year means they will be mature enough to begin laying in the Spring.

TSC just happened to be having their Fall Chick Days. We didn’t even know they had Chick Days in the Fall as well as Spring. Chick Days are when TSC has live chicks and ducklings in the store and that is where we bought chickens and ducks before. We couldn’t buy them at the store this time because the breed and sex we wanted weren’t available. However, we learned that we could order the chicks online, which is what we did. We had to order a minimum of 10 instead of the 5-6 that we wanted but, oh, well, that’s Chicken Math. Chicken Math is when a person intends to buy a few chickens and ends up buying more, and more, and some ducks, turkeys, and guinea hens added in.

The chicks were mailed to us through the post office. I was very apprehensive about this because I did not understand how the babies could survive the 2-3 day trip without food or water. I imagined picking them up from the post office, opening the box, and finding ten dead babies. I was prepared to be traumatized.

I used the post office’s tracking number to follow the chicks’ progress from Minnesota to Michigan. I knew when they arrived at our post office and, sure enough, shortly after lunch, I received the expected phone call asking me to go pick them up. I quickly drove to the post office and hurried into the building. I had to wait while the clerk tended another customer, but I could hear a loud chirp, chirp, chirp and knew it was my babies. “Well, at least some of them made it,” I thought.

A box full of babies

When I arrived home, EJ opened the box and counted the chicks. One, two, three…There were ten adorable LIVING chicks. They all survived! No trauma, only happiness! Yay! The chicks are very tiny. I read that they are shipped when they are a day old.

I had intended putting the chicks in an enclosed place in the coop, but tonight the temperature is supposed to be a rather cool 51(F) degrees. Too cold for babies, we guessed. So I got out a cat carrier from the garage, put the straw from the box in it, put water and poultry feeders in it, and one by one scooped up the tiny bits of fluff and put them inside. They all fit with room to spare. They are adorable.

Hannah Joy was frantic with excitement when she heard the chirping and saw the babies. When I got the chicks in the carrier, I put it on the floor and let Hannah see it. She kept pawing roughly at the carrier so we shut it safely in the master bedroom. Hannah has been complaining all afternoon about our meanness in not letting her see the chicks. We just don’t want them to become Chicken McNuggets. Hannah shut up whenever I pointed my camera at her and told her I was videoing her so the whole world could see how much she complains. LOL.

 

Fluffy bit of cuteness

I sneak into the bathroom now and then to sit on the floor and hold the fluffy chicks. Babies of every sort are so irresistible.

 

 

 

 

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Summer Bounty

Green beans from our garden

Now that we are well into summer, my days are getting a bit busier. I now pick green beans and sweet peas. It’s enjoyable and peaceful to pick them in the cool, freshness of the morning before the sun’s heat is hot on my back, reminding me of childhood times when we used a magnifying glass to focus the sun heat on a pile of tinder in an attempt to set it on fire. After I’ve picked the ripe beans and peas, I take them into the house and wash, snap, blanch, and freeze them.

It won’t be very long before our tomatoes are ripe. I prefer to dry my herbs and freeze my veggies, but I’d like to can the tomatoes. Neither EJ nor I really know how to can. EJ grew up on a farm and his Mom did a lot of canning so he has more memories of the process than I do. I grew up in a house on a large double lot in a small town. When I was really young, we had a large garden, but I don’t remember my Mom canning. We either ate the fresh veggies or my Mom must have frozen them. THIS year, EJ and I want to teach ourselves to can. We say that every year, but THIS year we really want to do it. It would be nice to have canned tomatoes all winter long.

A couple of days after we adopted Theo and Millie, I let them out of the coop. I always keep a new cat contained for a few days so they can learn that THIS is their new home. I always feel it’s a risk to let a new cat out because I don’t know if they will stay. Theo and Millie both stayed. I haven’t seen Millie leave the coop at all. She usually just stays in her hiding place on top of the litter buckets that hold the chickens’ feed. Theo leaves the coop occasionally, but he hasn’t ventured out of the pen. I keep telling them, “You know, it’s ok to wander a bit….” I think/hope they are more likely to leave the pen once we open the gate to let the chickens in the garden after the harvest is over. I mean, we got the cats to keep the rodent population down. They need to get to it. So far, Annie is unimpressed with the new cats.

Our Chickens

I started selling eggs because our chickens produced more than we could use. However, we now have a few regular customers and we struggle to keep up with demand so we decided to add to our flock. TSC (Tractor Supply Company) is now having its “Fall Chick Days,” which is when they have live chicks and ducklings for sale in their store. I just learned that they have Chick Days in the Fall; I thought they just had it in the Spring. The biggest advantage of buying chicks in the Fall is that the chicks will be mature enough by Spring to begin laying eggs.

EJ and I drove to TSC this morning with the anticipation of bringing home 5-6 cute little chicks. However, they didn’t have Rhode Island Reds, which is the type we want, and they only had “straight run,” which means males and females are mixed together and you get what you get. Chicks are hard to “sex” so even if you order all females, there is a possibility that you could get a rooster or two, but there is less chance than when ordering straight run. A store employee told us that we’d have to order our chicks on-line, and the minimum number we can order is ten. That’s about twice as many as we wanted. But one of the cashiers spoke up that she’d take any that we didn’t want, including roosters. She gave us her phone number. I thought that was very sweet.

When we got home, I got on my computer and ordered the ten chicks, using my 10% off coupon. Apparently, the chicks will be mailed to our post office. When they arrive, the post office will call us to pick them up. I’ve never ordered live animals through the mail before. I hope they all arrive safely.

Part of the crime scene in the coop – November 2017

We have a mouse family living in the house. A couple days ago I saw a dark blur as a mouse streaked across the living room floor and disappeared in the kitchen. When Hannah Joy ran after it, Little Bear and Timmy, our indoor cats, backed away. A few minutes later Hannah sat on the floor intently looking at something near the couch and growling. I walked toward her and she quickly gobbled up something and took it onto our bed. Suspecting it to be a mouse and not wanting her to eat it on the bed, I shut Hannah (still carrying the thing in her mouth) into the hallway. She spit it out on the floor and I saw it was a youngling mouse–dead, but not chewed up. I scooped it up with the dustpan and threw it out into the chicken pen. The chickens attacked it like vicious Velociraptors. I was surprised when we first got chickens to learn that they not only eat grain and grass, but also insects and rodents. In fact, in late 2017, I went out to their coop and it looked like a crime scene: There was blood splatter everywhere–on the feed bucket, on the inner coop, on the walls–from where they had attacked something, probably a mouse.

We have been enjoying the summer wildlife. We constantly see Monarch butterflies flittering about. I also saw a weird insect in our garden one day. I looked it up on Google and discovered it was a Common Whitetail Skimmer. A brilliant blue Indigo Bunting has visited our feeder a few times. A few evenings ago I saw the Mama Deer walking along our hill with her adorable little fawn. The turkeys also occasionally wander through. I love our property.

I made this doll. The pattern is from Havva Designs.

When I’m not busy with other tasks, I work on my crocheting. I finished an adorable doll a few days ago. I’m now working on a tiny mouse. The pattern is not very detailed so I’m looking at the photos and trying to adjust it. This doll is available for sale on my website.

 

A Fruitful Day

We were supposed to get some big storms Friday and Saturday with high winds, torrential rain, and possible tornadoes. We watched massive storms come towards us on radar on our computers but just before they reached us, they split and went around us. Other areas did get hit by the storm, but all we got was a little rain. The storms used to do the same thing when we lived downstate–split and go around us. I’m beginning to wonder if EJ and I repel storms. 😉

The weather today was sunny and cooler than it has been. EJ and I drove to a local orchard and picked sweet cherries. Northern Michigan has many, many cherry, apple, grape, apricot, and peach orchards. It’s beautiful to pass the miles of orchards, both in the Spring when the trees are blossoming, and later when they are heavy with fruit.

EJ and I each had our own bucket and picked from the same tree. It was very peaceful picking and chatting. The trees were weighed with cherries, which I thought looked like beautiful ruby jewels. It was incredibly fun. We filled our buckets and ended up picking more than 22 pounds of cherries.  Obviously, we will freeze many of them and enjoy them all winter.

The orchard didn’t have Saskatoon berries, but we had passed a fruit stand on our way there with a Saskatoon berry sign out front, so we stopped in on our way home a bought a pint. We were surprised that the couple who owned that second orchard had stopped at our house to buy eggs a couple weeks ago!

After we got home, EJ did a few odds jobs–washing the cherries, bringing the laundry in off the clothesline, cooking our meal (not sure if it was a very late lunch or early supper), and working on the Xterra. I mowed the lawn, did dishes, cared for the chickens and brought in their day’s supply of eggs.

Yesterday a woman contacted me wanting to buy two dozen eggs each week. Apparently, she uses them to make organic dog food for her pets. She is going to stop by early this evening.

We are getting just enough regular customers now that we are thinking about expanding our flock. We decided not to let our broody hen hatch eggs because some of them, no doubt, would be roosters. We already have two roosters, and though they are nice, two is enough! I went looking online for a place to buy chicks and learned that TSC is having their Fall Chick Days in about a week. We didn’t even know they had a Chick Days at this time of year. This means we can go to the store to pick the chicks up, and we can specify that we want females. We are thinking of getting five or six chicks. There are benefits to getting chicks at this time of year because they will be old enough to lay eggs in the Spring.

 

Most Pampered Dog

Ugh. It’s been incredibly hot and muggy here. Today is especially bad. We have heat advisories out. I think it’s even worse in southern Michigan and other states. We have our air conditioner running, which keeps the house cool. We aren’t doing a lot of outside work–just the necessary things, like taking caring of the animals.

Wednesday I opened what used to be the “duck door” but is now the “cat door” in the coop. I felt the new cats had been contained in the coop long enough to learn that this is “home” and it is too hot to keep them shut up. Millie seems uninterested in leaving her hiding place on top of the kitty litter buckets that hold the chicken feed, but Theo left the coop. I think he went under it where it was probably cooler, but he returned by evening so I shut them in the coop as well as the chickens. The cats haven’t left the chicken pen, but I figure eventually they will. Today was so hot that I opened the big human door into the coop so the slightest breeze could get in.

Wednesday we learned that the library was having a book sale so, of course, we went. We brought home a few more books to add to our home library. We never can resist. We also went on a search for Saskatoon berries, but our search was fruitless. (Pun intended.) Our little weekly newspaper had an article about a u-pick Saskatoon orchard. I’ve never had a Saskatoon berry, but according to the internet, “Saskatoon berries look much like blueberries, though they are more closely related to the apple family. Many would describe the taste of saskatoon as having a sweet, nutty almond flavor. They are also high in fiber, protein, and antioxidants.” I was hoping the place we were looking for also had already-picked berries, but they didn’t, and it looked as if it was going to storm, so we didn’t stop. There are TONS of orchards of all kinds around here and many u-pick ones. We drove past many, but couldn’t remember where they were when we went searching for them this week.

Hannah Joy often gets into our recliners whenever we vacant them, and she doesn’t always want to leave when we want to sit back down. So we decided that she needed her very own recliner to sleep in–when she isn’t sleeping in our laps. We found a decent-looking one at Facebook Marketplace and went to the elderly woman’s home in Traverse City this afternoon to pick it up. Normally “free” chairs are awful, but this one was in pretty good condition. As soon as we got the chair into the house, you could tell that Hannah Joy knew it was hers. She looked so happy when she jumped into it. She’s been sleeping in it ever since. She totally loves it.

Ok, so Hannah Joy is the Most Pampered Dog ever. Well….she is actually probably the Second Most Pampered Dog because I think my friends’ dog is even more pampered than our dog. But Hannah Joy is a close second. She is such an awesome dog that she deserves to be pampered, especially since she started out with a rough life. She and two other dogs were rescued by the local animal shelter from owners who kept them outside and starved them. Hannah’s story really is a rags to riches story.

Hannah Joy didn’t really have her photo in a magazine or newspaper. I had fun making these fake articles of her using the PhotoFunia website. She is so pampered that I imagined her being interviewed. 🙂

 

 

Lily Stems

It’s been incredibly hot and humid here in Northern Michigan–so hot that I feel like I’m melting. The temperatures have been in the mid-80s (F) and will rise to 90 this weekend. My southern friends would laugh at me because the 80s are nothing to them. They get much hotter than that. Yikes! I don’t know how they survive!

As I melt my way down the driveway to the mailbox and stagger back up to the house, I enjoy looking at the beautiful flowers lining the driveway. We have planted a lot of wildflower seeds, and I spent a summer or two transplanting the lilies spreading near the big rocks. Encouraging plants to grow along the driveway was one of my erosion-control methods. They slow the rainwater flowing down the hill and their roots hold the soil.

Empty stems. They missed one.

The lilies are blooming, but we’d actually enjoy two or three times more flowers except deer love to eat them. I chuckle when I find empty stems.  I’m assuming that, eventually, the lilies will spread enough that there will be more than the deer can eat. Meanwhile…oh, well. We purposely make our land wildlife-friendly.

Our chicken coop is actually a 12 x 10 shed. Until last summer we also had ducks. Our male duck used to enjoy harassing the hens so we separated them both outside and inside the coop. We used a dog fence panel inside the coop–the part with a door. The chickens and ducks each had their own little doors. Now the “duck side” is a storage area for the chickens’ food, etc. It is also where we have contained our new cats for a few days so they can get familiar with us, the chickens, and their new surroundings. And it will be their warm shelter in the winter.

Wire over the duck door.

We were concerned that it would be too hot for them in this warm weather but I keep checking on them and they are doing fine. I did fasten wire fencing across the “duck door” so the cats can’t get out but there is still increased air circulation. I shut the door at night so predators can’t get in. In a day or two, I will remove the fencing and let them go in and out. I want to make sure they aren’t scared of the chickens though. EJ said that the first time the cats heard Sassy crow, their eyes got huge. Being together (but separated) in the coop helps them all get comfortable with each other. Annie sometimes follows me into the chicken pen, and she ignores the chickens and the chickens ignore her.

Yesterday I took a video of Theo. Theo is a lover. Millie is shyer, although she usually comes out her hiding place on top of the kitty litter buckets filled with chicken feed when she sees Theo getting attention so she can get some too. She did not come out while I was videoing though. She must be camera shy.

Isn’t Theo cute?

Last week I designed a 10-inch dreamcatcher. It is a little different than the 8-inch one. This morning I finally finished getting the patterns written down. I posted them on my Terics Treasures website so people (I hope) can buy them. This is what the dreamcatchers look like:

Now I’m trying to finish up a doll that I started a couple of weeks ago. As I work on it, I’m considering how to design my next dreamcatcher. I’m having fun designing them.

 

Theo & Millie

The weather has been sunny with a chill, almost chilly enough to require a jacket. The National Weather Service posted, “This morning, with high pressure over the region, clear skies and calm winds helped the temperatures to fall into the 45 to 50-degree range in the interior part of northern Michigan. Some protected location even dipped into the upper 30s this morning.” In other words, the weather has been perfect. However, we are expecting warm, humid air this week–I think due to Hurricane Barry in the south. Yuck.

This chipmunk is sitting on the chair on our deck.

With Madeline gone, Annie appears very lonely and sad so we decided to get another outdoor cat to keep her company. Also, we have chipmunks. We see them running around, sitting on our deck, climbing up the posts to stuff their fat little cheeks with sunflower seeds from the feeders. They don’t scamper away until we are quite close to them. They are very cute and fun to watch but I can imagine our chipmunk population exploding and them becoming a real nuisance. So we posted on the Michigan Barn Cat Project that we were looking for a cat.

As I mentioned the other day, we just learned about the Michigan Barn Cat Project, which is a group on Facebook that finds homes for outdoor/feral cats. It connects people with outdoor cats with people wanting outdoor cats. All cats must be fixed and vaccinated before they are rehomed.

A woman commented that she had two cats needing homes and we agreed to take them. She and her family brought them to us early this afternoon. We like to keep new cats contained for a few days so they can get used to us and their new surroundings. After some thought, I had prepared a place for them in the storage side of the chicken coop/shed which is where they will shelter in the winter. Putting them in the coop provides them with a safe place, and yet also helps them and the chickens get used to each other. They can see each other so they can get used to each other, but not mix.

The cats hiding between the litter buckets (filled with chicken feed) and the straw bale.

The cats came with names, but I like to give them our own names. One cat looks like Madeline but is a male. I think I will name him Theo. I think I will name the black female cat Millie. At the moment, I like old fashioned names for our cats.  They are both a bit scared right now in their unfamiliar environment, which is normal and expected. They are hiding behind the straw bales I put in there for them to hide behind until they feel safe and to sit on. The woman said that they are very affectionate (once they aren’t scared) and very good hunters. They will be able to keep our coop free of rodents,

The black cat. I took this photo through the bottom of the small coop on the chickens’ side.
EJ petting Theo.

EJ and I go out to the coop now and then to pet the cats and help them become familiar with us.

We had sort of a scare. The family had the cats in a pet carrier. We took it around to the coop in the back yard and put the cats in the coop, also showing the family where the cats would be living. As we started to walk back to their car, the Mom noticed one of her kids was missing. As we rounded the house, the child emerged from our house. It never occurred to us that a child would just walk into a strange house. Our house is NOT childproof, and there are all sorts of things she could have gotten into, such as medications. She could have let Hannah out of the hallway where we had put her to keep her out of the way. We don’t know really how Hannah interacts with small children, especially ones she hasn’t been introduced to. The child hadn’t latched the front door, so Hannah could have gotten outside if she had been let out of the hallway. Our indoor cats could have gotten out too. In fact, we thought Little Bear had gotten outside because he was missing for several hours. At first, we just thought maybe he was hiding somewhere, but when we didn’t see him after a while, we went looking for him inside and then outside the house. We couldn’t find him anywhere. And then suddenly we found him calmly sitting in the kitchen window. Anyway, we decided that in the future, if we are outside with parents of small children, we will lock our doors to keep everyone safe–both small humans and animals.

 

Cat-erpillars

There are things that upset me that I am having a difficult time letting go.

One is the destruction of the library in Alexandria. The Museum, or Royal Library, of Alexandria was founded by Ptolemy in 283 BC. I realize that was a very long time ago, but the Museum was an incredible place–or so I hear. It was a place of study which included lecture areas, gardens, a zoo, and shrines for each of the nine muses as well as the Library itself. It has been estimated that at one time the Library of Alexandria held over half a million documents from Assyria, Greece, Persia, Egypt, India and many other nations. Over 100 scholars lived at the Museum full time to perform research, write, lecture or translate and copy documents. The library was so large it actually had another branch or “daughter” library at the Temple of Serapis. The loss of the ancient world’s single greatest archive of knowledge has been lamented for ages. I lament it too. Can you imagine the incredible history and knowledge that was lost when it burned?

The other upsetting thing is something I read on Facebook a few weeks ago. “The Herb Guy” shared a post about the importance of Milkweed to Monarch butterflies. Monarchs are incredible. In the late-summer/autumn they make an epic journey from northern and central United States and southern Canada to Florida and Mexico. Monarch caterpillars ONLY eat milkweed which provides all the nourishment the monarch needs to transform from a caterpillar into the adult butterfly. But Milkweed plants are rapidly disappearing, due to the loss of habitat stemming from land development and the widespread spraying of weed killer on the fields where they live.

So what so upsetting about The Herb Guy’s post? One person commented that in her county–she didn’t say in what state–Milkweed is considered a noxious weed and is outlawed. If Milkweed is found on a person’s property, that person is fined. That’s just insane.

We have a hill full of Milkweed growing on our property. We encourage it to grow here. In the late summer/autumn when the seed pods open, I take the pods and scatter the seeds around. I love to watch the Monarchs flittering around, and hope we get more and more. We also notice that a lot of bees are attracted to Milkweed flowers. That is also good.

 

Milkweed is a good plant, but we have a plant called leafy spurge growing on our property. I didn’t realize this until recently, but it is a very invasive plant. It is on the list of Top 20 Invasive Plants for Northwest Michigan. That’s sort of like the FBIs 10 Most Wanted Criminals List, but for plants. Leafy spurge replaces native plants in high-quality natural areas, which in turn reduces critical food resources for birds, butterflies, and other wild creatures. Leafy spurge’s extensive root system allows it to spread quickly and take much of the available water and nutrients needed by native plants.  Also, leafy spurge can secrete toxins into the soil that slow or stop native plant growth.

Leafy Spurge Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Yikes! I Boo! Hiss! I think we are going to have to take steps to get rid of it, although it sounds like a difficult task. In case you are wondering, leafy spurge is NOT the same as Milkweed plants!!!

Maybe the Leafy Spurge Hawkmoths can help us. I actually read the other day that leafy spurge has been such a problem in Canada that they brought in Hawkmoths to control them. As EJ and I walked down the driveway last weekend, we saw our leafy spurge plants filled with Hawkmoth caterpillars. They ranged in size from tiny caterpillars that looked like snippets of black embroidery thread to large colorful caterpillars the size of green beans. We tried to count the number of caterpillars we found on each plant. (The photo at the top of this post shows many of the caterpillars on the leafy spurge. The photo just shows the big ones. The tiny ones are hard to see. These caterpillars are eating the spurge plants bare. Go caterpillars!

Annie, our outside cat, has been very lonely and sad since Madeline disappeared. She walks around crying, which makes me sad. So we decided to find her some companions. A friend told me about the Michigan Barn Cat Program, in which homes are found for feral cats. The cats must be neutered/spayed before being given away. We are adopting two of them. They will arrive on Sunday.

 

Michaels

I hope everyone had a wonderful Independence Day. In the USA, that is. EJ and I didn’t participate in any holiday activities. When we were younger, we went to parades and fireworks, but now that it’s just EJ and me at home, we enjoy relaxing, working on projects, or running errands on days off. We enjoy it.

Early last Wednesday morning–about 4am-ish

–I got a call from EJ. He was on his way home when the steering wheel stopped working. He couldn’t steer the Xterra at all. Amazingly, the Xterra didn’t hit anything and didn’t end up in a nearby ditch. EJ had been driving more slowly than usual because of thick fog, and the vehicle came to a gentle rest alongside the road, about where EJ would have pulled over if he had had car problems and been able to steer. When he called, he asked me to get on the computer and find him a tow truck company. I did, he called it, and they brought him safely home.

EJ looked the Xterra over the next morning. We discussed whether to try to fix the Xterra and hope it lasts for another couple of years or try to scrape up enough money to buy another used vehicle. We decided to fix it, and EJ is looking for the part he needs.

I plan to send a Tree of Life Dreamcatcher to each of the two friends who inspired me to design it. I’ll send both dreamcatchers to my friend in Texas, and she will include it in a package she is sending to our friend in Israel. I think it’s quite awesome whenever one of my items goes overseas!

My yarn index

I used up my crochet cotton making the first dreamcatcher so I ordered more from Joann’s Fabrics. It arrived on Friday morning, but it was the wrong color. Labels  often fall off yarn and go missing, and it’s not always easy to match what I have with colors on the website. As I work on projects, I try to write down the yarn brand, color, and sometimes the store I bought it from, but it’s a work in progress, and I had not recorded the crochet cotton before the label went missing.

Friday EJ drove me (in the Suburban) to Michaels. I brought along a sample of the crochet cotton to make sure I was buying the right yarn. After I got home, I recorded the yarn so I can order it online next time. It’s easier to order online and have it delivered than try to battle traffic. We live in a very touristy area, and the traffic is terrible during the summer months. It becomes even more terrible on holiday weekends, and even worse when the town is having its annual National Cherry Festival, which thousands and thousands of people attend. At one point, I asked EJ, “How long before we get to Michaels.” He said, “About two hours.” I asked, “How far in miles are we from Michaels?” He said, “About a mile.”  He was joking, but it didn’t feel like a joke because of the constant stream of cars and long waits at stoplights.

We finally made it to Michaels. EJ waited in the Suburban with Hannah Joy (we took her with us) while I went into the craft store. I was standing in the yarn section looking for the color I needed when a woman interrupted me to ask if I could help her find a crochet hook. Apparently, she was a new crocheter and confused about the hooks. She referred to the hook she wanted in an uncommon way so I questioned her to try to figure out if she needed the smaller hooks used for crochet thread or the bigger hooks used for bigger yarns. I found out that she was ripping out the crochet project she had made because it was too small. So I explained to her about measuring her gauge. People crochet tighter or looser than others so patterns usually include a “gauge”–how many stitches are supposed to be per inch. A person can use whatever hook is necessary to attain the correct gage. It especially matters when making clothing. With relief, she thanked me for my help

When I rejoined EJ, I told him about helping the woman. He said that I should start teaching people how to crochet. I thought, “Hmm. I could do that!” So I am thinking about/planning classes. It could help me earn a little extra money.

Meanwhile, now that I have more crochet cotton, I have been working on the second dreamcatcher. As I make this one, I am proofing my instructions and taking photos at each stage so I can correct any typos and include photos in the pattern. Once I finish, I will find someone to try to follow my pattern to make sure it is clear to others. Then I will sell it on my website. I shared a photo of my Tree of Life Dreamcatcher at a Facebook crochet group and so far have received hundreds of favorable reactions and comments. Several people said that they would love to have the pattern when it is finished and a few have offered to be testers. 🙂

One of my egg customers stopped by during the weekend to pick up another three dozen eggs. He had bought eggs from me once before. He said that he and his wife love our eggs. Apparently, his wife had been unable to eat eggs for about two years because the ones they bought from the store made her sick. However, she tried our eggs and was able to eat them without any problem. EJ and I wonder if the wife is reacting to the stress hormones in commercial chickens caused by many of the living in small spaces. Or it could be the antibiotics given to the chickens? I told the couple that they could meet our chickens if they wanted, and we all walked around back. They admired our chickens while we answered their questions about chickens. It was rather fun.

The sky has been really hazy/cloudly over the last couple days, even though the weather forecast said that we’d have sunny weather. Then I found out that the haze is actually smoke from large wildfires in Canada. Wow.

 

Catching the Dream

EJ’s normal shift is four 10-hour shifts every week, which means he gets Friday through Sunday off every week. It’s quite nice. We spent our last Friday running errands. I had posted on a local buy/sell group at Facebook that I was in search of empty egg cartons. Usually, EJ’s friend brings us some when he comes to visit, but he forgot last time and I was getting low. One guy responded that he had some cartons to give me. We met at a gas station in a nearby town. I gave him a dozen eggs as thanks.

We completed a few other errands. Our last stop was in another town to drop off a crochet item to my best customer. We debated whether to continue on to Meijers for a few veggies, but decided to stop at the farmer’s market instead. We’ve been driving by this market every summer since we’ve moved into the area, and each time we have commented, “We really need to stop and explore it!” but we never did. Until Friday. We had a lot of fun there. One young man was giving out samples of cantaloupe. We both took a small cup, ate a piece, and then exclaimed to the guy that THIS is what we remember cantaloupes tasting like. I used to love cantaloupes when I was younger–they were tasty, juicy, and almost melted in my mouth. But it’s been many years since we’ve had any like this. The ones at the store are dry and tasteless. Of course, after enjoying the samples, we added a cantaloupe to our cart.

I love putting out the bird feeders in the winter, but I usually put them away in the summer months because bears are attracted to them. Despite the reports we’ve heard of bear sightings in our area, EJ wanted to put out hummingbird feeders this year, and I figured that if we were going to put them out, we might as well put the other feeders out as well. I’m glad we did because we’ve been totally enjoying the summer birds. Among others, we have both male and female Rose-breasted Grosbeaks visiting. Right now I’m watching three males at the feeders. And with Madeline gone, the chipmunks have also come to feast on the seeds. It’s fun watching them scamper about. I didn’t see any activity at the bluebird house for a few days, but then they returned. I think their first babies have left the nest and they are hatching another batch. This morning a couple turkeys wandered through the yard. I love the wildlife activity outside our window!

The remainder of the weekend EJ worked in the garden while I worked at bringing a vision to life.

A few years ago, two friends of mine created a website called His-Israel where they teach about the Hebraic perspective of the Bible. Their logo is a tree of life, which I thought was very beautiful. It inspired me and I’ve wanted to make them a tree of life dreamcatcher, symbolizing their ministry. However, there is almost no crocheted tree of life dreamcatchers available and the few patterns I found on the Internet were not at all what I envisioned. Almost all dreamcatchers are made of full circles that fill a ring, but I wanted the top half of my dreamcatcher to be leaves and the bottom half to be the tree trunk. Over the years, I have looked through many patterns, searching for stitches or techniques that would bring my vision to life. Now and then I would think I found what I wanted and I would try it out, but the results were not what I wanted, so I’d set the dreamcatcher aside for a while until I found something else to try. I found many macrame tree of life dreamcatchers that are so beautiful that I bought books and supplies to teach myself macrame so I could make one. However, I broke my wrist before I could teach myself, and after my wrist healed I was too busy with my crocheting to teach myself the necessary skills needed to make the complicated-looking macrame dreamcatchers.

A few days ago, something just clicked in my mind and I finally figured out how to design the crocheted tree of life dreamcatcher. I spent hours and several days working on it, with a lot of ripping out and starting over. Sunday afternoon I finally finished the leaf part, but Monday morning I woke with an idea of how to make it better so I tore most of it out and began again. This last time, I knew that I had absolutely created exactly what I had envisioned. Next, I had to work on the tree trunk. I worked for hours on Sunday evening trying to design it. I wanted a gnarled-looking trunk with roots spreading out on the bottom. I couldn’t find stitches on the Internet that looked anything like I wanted, and I ripped and crocheted, and ripped and crocheted, trying different techniques. Nothing worked. But Monday morning, in addition to figuring out how to make the leaves better, I woke knowing what stitch and technique to use for the trunk–and it worked! I was able to capture my dream of a beautiful crocheted tree of life.

This is my final result, which I finished yesterday evening:

I was going to send one to my friend whose website logo inspired me as a surprise gift. But after I finished it, I couldn’t keep it a secret so I called her and told her about it. I sent her photos at Facebook so she could see it. She thought it was beautiful. When I finish a second one, I will give it to the other friend who inspired me as well. She lives in Israel. As soon as I can figure out what to charge for it, it will be available at my website. I’d like to make different styles of center, and also make 10- or 12-inch dreamcatchers. I also plan to eventually sell the pattern, but first I have to find someone to make one using my pattern to test that my instructions are clear.

I think designing involves making reality match the image in my mind. I’m so thrilled with the results!

 

Hill and Dale

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Our smooth driveway!

We are very thankful for such a nice neighbor.

 

My Old Familiar Fiend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

June 20, 2019 (11)
Spider peeking out

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


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

 

 

Broody

Muddy chicken pen

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

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

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

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

Hannah Joy enjoying the drive.

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

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

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

Mama at left, baby toward the right.

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

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

June Flurries

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

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

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

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

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

In the box

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

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

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

EJ working in the garden

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

 

 

Natural Treasures

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

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

Slug

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

Hummingbird sitting on a bracket above the feeders.

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

Scarlet Tanager

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

Relocated birdhouse.

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

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

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

Driving along Grand Traverse Bay

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

My treasure box

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

Madeline

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

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

 

Morel Hunting

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

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

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

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

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

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