“Woof!”

EJ arrived home yesterday at about 3:30 pm. I’m glad that he can go hunting every year, but I sure do miss him when he’s gone! I had intended to make homemade pizza for him, but I didn’t have any tomato paste so I made chili instead. It’s a good dish to make because I can warm it up whenever he gets home.

EJ took Hannah Joy and me out to the truck to see his deer. Hannah was very excited about them. I pulled her back into the house, and EJ drove the truck around to the side door of the garage, pulled the deer inside, and hung them from the rafters. I helped him with the doe. He fasted the rope to her and pulled the deer up, while I held the other end of the rope taunt so the deer didn’t slide back down while he pulled again. I tried not to look at the deer that was inches from my face. Venison is tasty, but I don’t like to see dead things looking at me. EJ fixed up a pulley to pull up the buck so I didn’t have to help him. He got one of the deer skinned today before he went to work.

Hannah Joy kept dragging me outside to the truck in hopes of getting another glimpse at the deer. She sniffed all around the truck. She didn’t know the deer weren’t still inside.

Shortly after he arrived home yesterday, I said EJ, “We were supposed to get some snow but, as you can see, we didn’t get any.” He replied, “Do you want to know where the snow is? It’s about 3 miles east of here.” Sometimes that happens. Sometimes the snow just misses us and sometimes we are in the center of the bulls-eye for the heaviest snow. Throughout today we got flurries, but there’s only a light dusting on the ground. EJ read that we could get about 4 inches of snow. We shall see.

This morning Hannah and I had a conversation. When it was just barely beginning to get a little light outside, just enough to make out the faint outlines of trees, Hannah Joy suddenly leaped up and, alertly looking out the window, said, “Woof!”

I asked, “What do you see?”
She said, “Woof!”
“Do you see the neighbor’s car coming down their driveway?” In the winter when the trees are bare, we can often see the headlines of the neighbor’s car as he drives from the top to the bottom of his hill. Hannah always barks at them.
Hannah replied, “Woof!”
“Or do you see deer?”
“Woof!”
“Do you see a cougar?”
“Woof!
“Do you see a bobcat?”
“Woof!”
“You know, I think you are not telling me the truth.”
She gave me a Look, and silently lay back down next to me on the couch. The conversation was over.

Hannah Joy is licking her incision so I put my Lord of the Rings t-shirt back on her. It didn’t stay on very well because she has ripped it to tatters. EJ said I could put one of his old white t-shirts on her, which I did, but she’s already ripped a large hole in it. Human t-shirts are not a good fit for dogs. I put her harness on her to keep the shirt on her, but I’m not sure how well that will work out. I told Hannah Joy that if she doesn’t stop licking her incision, the veterinarian is going to scold us both.

Speaking of which….the veterinarian called this afternoon. She said the report came back from the lab and the mass is a benign tumor. Whew! We will need to keep an eye on Hannah in case more she gets more tumors, but so far, so good.

This afternoon a pileated woodpecker came to eat the suet I put out this morning. Pileated woodpeckers are the largest of all woodpeckers–about the size of a crow. I think they are beautiful and interesting.

Hannah and the Box

We made it through last night without losing power again from the high winds. Yay! We didn’t get any snow overnight but we could get some tonight.

EJ texted me that he is on his way home! Whoo hoo! I am glad that he was able to get away to go hunting, but I really missed him.

EJ is coming home with TWO deer, a buck and a doe. He always refers to bucks that he shoots as “Rudolph” and does as “Clarisse.” He’s got a slightly skewed sense of humor. One of the things I love about EJ is his sense of humor.

I ordered three 40lb containers of pretzels from Amazon. They are good for work lunches and night-time snacks. They arrived today. We have a box at the bottom of our long driveway that delivery people put packages in. I call it the “Magic Box” because I find good things in it every now and then. When I got a text that the package had arrived, I walked down to retrieve it. I took Hannah Joy with me because I knew she couldn’t lick her incision site if she came with me–and she hadn’t been out for a while. I knew the box would be somewhat large, but light, and I figured that I could handle it and Hannah at the same time.

I had forgotten that because Hannah Joy sometimes gets packages in the mail–and she got one recently–she tends to think that EVERY package is hers. She knew a package was left in the Magic Box before I even opened the lid. She quickly grabbed hold of the box and growled as she began ripping it apart. I tried to lift it out of her way, but when Hannah wants something, she doesn’t let go. When I finally got it away from her, I had to lift it high to keep it out of her reach. She finally left it alone as she went off to sniff interesting smells and we were able to make it up the hill and into the house without the box being totally destroyed.

Hannah Joy is so funny. She keeps me laughing

Today I received a message with sad news. I felt a trifle sad that I didn’t feel more sad about the news, but I had felt deeply sad about it for many years, and I have no more sadness left in me with which to feel sad. I felt slightly irritated with the guilt-tripping tone of the message, but I didn’t expect less so I dismissed it. I briefly considered responding, but I knew that anything I say–nice, truth, explaining, or defending–would not make a smidgen of difference. I owe the messenger(s) nothing and they can think what they want. I am glad that I don’t feel I have to respond. It shows me that I have moved on and these people no longer have power to hurt me, as they once did. I have chosen to live in freedom and happiness.

And that is all I will say about that.

Recovery

Hannah Joy was very subdued when we brought her home from her surgery last Tuesday. She is a total cuddle bunny and hates to be away from us. She even always sleeps on our bed, but our bed is high and the veterinarian said she wasn’t supposed to do any leaping or jumping so I planned to sleep on the couch for a few nights while she recovered. I figured she could either sleep on the floor or settled on the couch with me.

Hannah Joy has always been extremely intelligent and observant and she knows our routines. At night, she will run and jump into bed when she sees me beginning my bedtime routine, but on the weekends when EJ is home, she will first run over to him to get her goodnight kiss before heading off to bed. Tuesday night, my routine was a little different. She watched me pull a blanket off the bed and spread it on the couch. I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth, etc., and when I came out, I found Hannah already sitting on the couch, as if she realized that we were sleeping there that night. When I lay on the couch and covered myself up with the blanket, Hannah crawled up on my chest and we snuggled…for awhile.

The couch isn’t very comfortable and I didn’t sleep well. Hannah Joy didn’t either. In the bedroom, I always shut the curtains at night and shut the door to keep out distractions, including the cats. Sleeping in the living room, Hannah Joy grumbled at the cats who were prowling about or went to the window barking at the wildlife she sensed was outside, which, of course, woke me. Finally, at about 7 am, she got up for some reason or another so I got up to use the master bathroom. When I came out, Hannah was sitting on the bed, waiting for me. “You aren’t supposed to be jumping up on the bed,” I told her. But since she was there already…I shrugged, grabbed the pillow and blanket from the couch, got into the bed, and we both got the best sleep of the night. I have been keeping the bedroom door shut during the day to keep Hannah Joy from jumping on the bed too much, but at night we’ve been sleeping in the bed as normal.

Lord of the Rings shirt

We had brought home a cone but the veterinarian had said we could use a t-shirt–or nothing–if Hannah left her incision alone. I put an old favorite t-shirt on Hannah at first, but it was long and she kept getting caught in it even though I tried to pin it up out of the way. So Wednesday I just took it off her. She didn’t start licking the incision until Friday so I put a smaller t-shirt on her. It was an old Lord of the Rings shirt that has a hole in it, and which I never wear anymore, but it was such a favorite t-shirt that I didn’t want to get rid of it. I didn’t mind donating it to Hannah. She did much better with the smaller shirt, and I cut it a little and pinned the sides up so it didn’t hang down. It mostly kept her from accessing her “owie.” She somehow wiggles out of it at night, so I’ve begun taking it off her when we go to bed. I wake up whenever she starts licking her incision in the night so I can stop her.

I think dogs must have a magical ability to heal faster than humans. If I had surgery like Hannah’s, I would have been taking it easy for days, but she has quickly bounced back, acting very much like normal. She’s been a bit of a rascal.

My friend sent Hannah Joy a “get well” gift. It was delivered by UPS on Thursday. Hannah was very excited to get it, as you can see in the video.

Hannah’s new toy
Tin of Treats

Hannah Joy is such an aggressive chewer that she quickly destroys all but the toughest toys. I had to throw her new toy away a few hours later when she started to eat it, but she enjoyed it while it lasted. Hannah didn’t want to give up her toy, and we had a fierce tug-of-war. Holding on to the toy that she was gripping with her teeth, I was able to drag her over to her tin of treats. I put the opened tin on the floor, hoping she would let go of the toy in favor of the treats. She did, but then I had a struggle to get her head out of the tin before she ate all the treats. Hannah Joy is a stubborn girl.

Photo EJ sent me from his shack.

Today is the first day of deer hunting season. EJ left Saturday afternoon to go to his usual hunting place on the other side of the state–his friend’s parents’ 100-acre woods. EJ has known the family for so long that he is considered an honorary member of the family. There are several heated hunting shacks throughout the forest so each has a cozy place to hunt, which is good because we are having a rainy day with high winds, which is forecasted to turn to snow later. EJ texted me this morning that he had shot Clarisse. He always calls any doe he gets “Clarisse” after the girlfriend of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. 😥 EJ is still out in his hunting shack, hoping for another deer.

Propane heater

Meanwhile, here at home in our Enchanted Forest, the high winds knocked out our power this morning. When I called the power company to report it, their recording listed multiple counties without power. I got out our little propane heater but did not set it up because it was still relatively warm outside (low 50s). I, myself, have set up the heater so seldom that I’m never confident that I will remember how and I always make EJ give me a refresher lesson at the beginning of each winter, which we haven’t done yet this year. Fortunately, we were only without power for about an hour today. Hopefully, our power will remain on so I don’t have to worry about it.

The most annoying thing is that for some reason our fire alarm started squealing when the power went out and it wouldn’t shut up. I would have simply taken out the battery if it had one, but the alarm is wired in, and I couldn’t figure out how to shut it off. I’m not sure how it could be sounding with the power off? I considered yanking the stupid thing out of the wall or smashing it with a hammer, but instead Hannah and I went into the bedroom and closed the door. When the power came back on, the alarm stopped its clamor. Whew.

EJ returns home tomorrow.

Hannah Update

I had to wake up at 5 a.m. this morning to give Hannah Joy some meds. Usually, I feed her as soon as I get out of bed each morning, but she wasn’t supposed to have anything past midnight. She kept reminding me it was time for breakfast, and couldn’t understand why she wasn’t getting it. She acted like a cranky toddler.

We dropped Hannah Joy off at the animal hospital at 8 a.m. It was very difficult to leave her, but our compassionate vet said that the injection they gave her would put her to sleep within 5-10 minutes. When we arrived back home, both EJ and I went back to bed to get more sleep.

We picked up our Hannah Joy at 12:45 pm. The vet said that everything went perfectly. She’s going to send the mass to the lab to analyze to see if it is cancerous. Hopefully not.

Hannah Joy is still rather groggy and unsteady on her feet so she is sleeping a lot. The vet said that we could try putting an old t-shirt on her to see if that will be enough to keep her from messing with her incision site. We brought home a cone (of shame) to use if the t-shirt doesn’t work. I hope the shirt works because she looks cute in it, and I really hate seeing a dog stumbling around with the stupid cone on her head.

Hannah Joy is a cuddle bunny and loves to be with us at all times. She usually sleeps with us in our bed. Our bed is high and she isn’t supposed to do any jumping until she heals so I plan to sleep on the couch for a few nights. It’s lower and she can sleep on the floor next to it and still be close to me. Or if she wants to cuddle, she won’t have to jump to be with me.

Hannah is our baby.

Prayers for Hannah Joy

On Friday afternoon, we took Hannah Joy to the veterinarian because we had found a growing lump on one of her nipples. The vet said that it would be best to remove it because, at the very least, it was pre-cancerous.

Although our veterinarian is actually pretty booked through the next month, she didn’t want to wait to remove the lump. So she squeezed the surgery into her schedule. We have to drop Hannah Joy off at 8 am tomorrow morning.

I know there are much greater concerns that people are struggling with, but if you could, please keep Hannah Joy in your prayers tomorrow. Hannah really is our joy and we want her to remain in our lives for many years to come.

The Golden Time

Our very enchanting forest is at all times, in every season, very beautiful. However, there are two times in every day that are so magical that it takes my breath away. I call it “the Golden Time.”

It happens every sunrise and sunset. At those times the sun’s light hits the trees in a certain way and lights them up so they blaze with breathtaking beauty. Sometimes it looks as if the trees are lit from within. I’ve watched the light touch the tips of the trees in the distance and then move to light up the trees of our forest. The effect lasts only for a few minutes and then it’s as if a spotlight has been suddenly turned off. The trees then return to their normal level of beauty.

Most of the photos in the slide show below were taken during this morning’s Golden Time but I’ve included a few from other seasons as well. None of the photos were enhanced in any way. The trees are more beautiful than even the photos can show.

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Day of Endless Rain

Early yesterday evening I looked out the window and saw large clouds moving ponderously from right to left and small wispy clouds speeding from left to right. Weird. Shortly afterward thunderstorms moved in. I was surprised by the first flash of lightning because I thought it was too chilly for a thunderstorm. Apparently not. Sometimes the thunder was loud with bolts of lightning streaking through the sky; sometimes it was a low rumble, but it never stopped. Usually, thunderstorms pass through quickly but it began thundering at about 7 pm and continued until well after I went to bed after 11 pm.

And the rain! It started to rain during the afternoon, and it rained and rained and rained through the night and all day today. The US National Weather Service for our area said this morning that we had gotten 4-5 inches of rain with another inch expected today. There were flood warnings issued. I’m glad we live high on a hill where we don’t have to be concerned about floods.

With all the rain, the chicken yard is even muddier than it was. The cats were both out in the coop when I went out to gather the few eggs the chickens are laying. Theo came out with me when I left, walking on the walkway I put down for them.

We spent today running errands. First we dropped off our bags of garbage at the waste treatment place. We found that it is actually much cheaper to drop our garbage ourselves than get curbside service. Curbside service charges us a monthly fee no matter how few bags we have. When we take it in ourselves, we pay only for the bags we actually have, which isn’t much.

After we dropped off our garbage, we drove to a farm store to buy a few more bales of straw. Eric wants some straw for his garden, and I want a few more to insulate the coop for winter.

Next, we went to another farm store. We have about four farm stores that we go to because each offers different items we need at better prices than the others. The first store we went is a good place to buy straw. The second store is a good place to buy wild bird seed. The store puts together its own seed mixes at better prices than other stores. We bought 40 lbs of black sunflower seeds, 40 lbs of deluxe mix, and 25 lbs of split peanuts–all for about $68. I was at first uncertain whether to buy the seed today or wait for another paycheck or two, but we decided to get it now. We expect things could get a bit crazy after the presidential elections so we’d rather get all we need for the winter now so we can stay home and wait for things to calm down.

Apples from the farm market. The squash is from our garden.

We stopped at a farm market on the way home to buy apples. EJ bought me a small bag of my favorite Gala apples. I like to dip them in melted peanut butter. Yum. He bought a half bushel of mixed “seconds” to make pies and other yummy desserts. All these apples were only $12. They wanted cash, but we were $3 short because we tend to pay for most items with our debit card. The woman said, “No problem.” We could just put the $3 in their dropbox the next time we drove by. I thought that was amazingly generous of her.

Although we were just running errands, we had a good time together. The drive through the autumn forests was beautiful. We are past the peak and the trees are getting barer, but it is still very beautiful.

Lothloren

I’m sitting here sipping hot tea on a chilly, rainy, autumn afternoon as I watch the birds feast from the birdfeeders just outside the window. Hannah Joy is dozing next to me. She is the cuddlest dog ever. I’m feeling very cozy.

In the last couple of weeks, we’ve had sunny days with deep blue skies as well as days of rain, rain, rain. Maybe I say this every year, but this autumn has seemed especially beautiful: The yellow, orange, and red leaves are so vibrant that the very air turns golden. I feel as if I am living in Lothlorien, the forest in Middle Earth where the elves live. Here are some photos I’ve taken of our enchanted forest. None of these images are enhanced.

We’ve had some blustery days that have ripped the leaves off the trees in a golden rain. We still have a lot of leaves on the trees, but they are getting a little sparser. The days are also getting a little chiller. I’m still wearing a jacket, but any cooler and I may switch to a coat.

Muddy chicken yard with a pallet walkway for the cats

Last week it rained every day. It rained so much that the chicken yard became extremely muddy. The mud slurps and sucks at my boots as if it is a monster trying to eat me. The cats obviously didn’t like walking in the mud so I made a walkway for them across the mud with pallet pieces. I can tell that they are very appreciative of it. With the rain today, the mud has gotten even deeper.

Last weekend we harvested the last of the garden crops and then we let the chickens in. We keep them out of the garden from planting to harvest season, but we let them in the rest of the year. During the cold snowy winters, they tend to stay snuggly in the coop, but right now they are enjoying wandering through the garden, eating the leftovers. It’s pleasant looking out the window and watching them wander among the fallen leaves.

Some of our canned goods

As I wrote in my last post, our little grocery store has a canned goods sale every autumn. We’ve been participating in it for the last two years–ever since we learned about it. I always contact the store on Facebook at the end of September or early October to ask when the sale begins because I’m never quite sure of the exact date. This year they told me that they weren’t going to have the sale because they weren’t quite sure if they could fulfill the orders during this unbelievably crazy year. We thought, “Ok. It’s disappointing, but understandable” and we were willing to just accept it. But later they contacted me and told me that they’d special order the canned goods that we wanted and give us a price break on it. It took them two tries to fulfill our order, but we were able to get all the canned goods we wanted for the year. What a unexpected and awesome blessing!

EJ has been switched over to working on the mill instead of the lathe at work. As he has explained it to me, lathes spin the material a person is working on, with a cutting tool that stays stationary. Milling machines spin the cutting blade while the material remains still. Of course, he knows how to do both–it’s all part of machining. He said he is enjoying the work. I am always happy to hear that.

October Birthday

Note: WordPress has totally changed their format and I’m struggling with how to understand and use their new way of writing posts. It might take me some time to learn. I really wish sites would leave well enough alone. Ugh.. End of rant.

Today is my birthday. Usually we celebrate my birthday on the weekends when EJ doesn’t have to work. Actually, my birthday occurs at such a beautiful season that we end up celebrating for several weeks–enjoying the sights, scents, and flavors of autumn. My gifts are always the memories we create. Last year we drove to an area of the state where elk roam wild. We didn’t see any elk, but we enjoyed driving through the beautiful remote wooded areas. We were going to go looking for elk again this year, but with all the craziness, I told EJ that I would prefer to stick closer to home. We are surrounded by such beauty that home is a nice place to be.

Usually in late September/early October, our little local store has a canned goods sale. We stock up on cases of canned goods for the year at this time. I didn’t see any advertisements for the sale so I contacted them on Friday to ask. They said they aren’t really doing it this year because they weren’t sure if they would be able to get the canned goods in. BUMMER! Oh, well. We will manage. The only thing certain about this year is the uncertainty.

I ended up reorganizing the kitchen cabinets over the weekend. They tend to get in disarray over time. This time I didn’t just straighten items on the shelves. I moved the baking dishes–rolling pins, bread pans, cutting boards–to a cupboard that was higher up so EJ wouldn’t have to bend so much to get the items he needs when he makes bread. He has chronic back pain and bending is a problem for him.

Birthday Pizza

We made homemade pizza together on Saturday. It was a lot of fun and I told EJ that it was part of my birthday gift. I made the dough and the pizza sauce while EJ cut up the meat and then we both put the toppings on. On top of the sauce we put a layer of a mix of different types of cheeses, then we layered it with four different types of meat, onions, green peppers, olives, mushrooms, and ended with another layer of the cheese. The pizza was so full and filling that I struggled to finished one piece. It was the best birthday pizza ever.

This morning I glanced out the window and saw two deer grazing on the other side of the garden fence. I love seeing the wildlife on our property. The weather was beautiful with a cloudless sky and vivid autumn colors. Later I walked down the driveway with Hannah Joy and we enjoyed the autumn beauty. I made meatloaf for our mid-day meal with potatoes and squash from our garden. Another yummy birthday meal.

Yesterday I started washing the outside of the jars that my herbs and spices are in and I finished this evening. I removed the old labels and replaced them with bright new ones that I made on the computer and printed off. I have a lot of herbs and spices. Some are ones that I grew myself and others we bought.

I told EJ that this next weekend I’d like to celebrate my birthday by driving to the farm store for a winter’s supply of wild bird seed. There are many different farm stores in our area, and we like each one for different reasons. We always buy our bird seed at one particular store which puts together it’s own seed mixtures–and at a cheaper price than other stores. We will meander there and back home again. We live in such a beautiful area that it will be a wonderful autumn drive.

30 Pounds of Peanuts

We enjoyed a week or two of warmer weather with temperatures in the 70s (F) and at least once even reaching up to 80 degrees. But we have returned to cooler temperatures with highs forecasted for the low 50s and overnight lows dipping into the 30s. I’ve turned the heat back on.

We’ve also had several days of rain and are expecting several more. The chicken yard is soggy and I am trying to be careful not to slip and fall in the muck. Once was enough. LOL.

When we finally get another sunny day, I plan to take the screens out of the windows for the winter. I don’t think we will get too many more warm days.

Last week I was lost in thought and I didn’t see Hannah Joy sleeping on the floor. I tripped over her and fell on the floor HARD. As I felt myself falling, I thought, “Oh, crap! I hope I don’t break my leg!” Fortunately, all I did was groan in pain for a while. I told a friend about it and she said, “I thought people only did that in stories”–you know, get lost in thought and trip. I said, “Nope. It really happens because it happened to me.”

Hannah Joy has learned another bad habit. For quite some time, she has been stealing and eating Kleenexes from my pocket if I leave my sweater within reach. But a couple weeks ago, she began to steal them while I’m wearing the sweater. She will get up on the couch next to me to cuddle, but then I will feel her nuzzling my pocket. If she is successful at stealing a Kleenex, which she often is, she runs with it onto the bed to eat. If asked what breed of dog she is, I say, “She is a pit-pocket.”

With the Lockdowns and everything, our local bank has just the drive-thru open. Hannah Joy quickly learned that they give her awesome dog treats. So now when we go to the bank, she starts trying to crawl over EJ to the window (even though she has a seatbelt on) and she whines and cries until she gets it. She acts like a spoiled toddler, but she is still adorkable.

Monday afternoon a flock of about 20 turkeys came wandering through our yard. Most of them were young ones born last summer. Our cat Theo watched unconcerned on the patio table on the deck. Hannah Joy barked a bit, but surprisingly calmed down after I told her “Shhhhh!”

Monday evening, I was walking through the garden to the coop when I heard a large crashing in the wooded ravine on the other side of the garden fence. My first thought was that it was deer running off. I sometimes startle them. However, it sounded as if the sound was made by a much larger animal. My heart leaped into my throat as I thought, “Could it be a BEAR???” I’ve never seen a bear on our property, but there have been reports of them as near as a mile away from us. I heard the noise again, but I also recognized a flappety-flap and I realized that the turkeys I had seen earlier were flying up to the trees to roost for the night. Turkeys usually fly up to the trees by ones, or twos, or threes and I constantly heard them as I counted the chickens to make sure they were all safely in the coop, and as I found Theo and Mille and carried them into the coop, and shut them all in safely for the night.

A few days ago I ordered 30 pounds of roasted peanuts from an on-line store. Peanuts make a good snack, especially when mixed with chocolate chips and raisins. EJ sometimes takes nuts with him to work to eat for lunch. I had never ordered nuts on-line before, and I have never ordered 30 pounds. The peanuts were delivered by Fed-ex today. They put them in the delivery box at the bottom of our driveway. I was glad EJ was still home so I didn’t have to lug the heavy box up our long, steep driveway. We drove down in the truck to get them.

I scooped the peanuts into four large containers to keep them safe from the dratted mice. EJ has caught a couple mice in the traps he has set, but there is always another at this time of year. Hannah Joy often smells them in the night, and she wakes me up barking to be let out of the bedroom so she can go after it. Hannah is a better mouser than the cats, although she hasn’t yet caught (and eaten) this last one.

Cool…and Warmth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mouse Tails

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

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

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

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

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

My view

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

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

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

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

Hannah just found and ate another mouse.
Yuck.

Summer’s End

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

Plants back inside

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

Sunflowers

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

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

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

A nice day at the lake

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

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

My egg sign

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

 

Raising our Flag

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

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

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

Carrots

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

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

Apples!

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

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

 

Homemade Taco Seasoning

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

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

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

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

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

 

Our beautiful flag

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

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

Hannah Joy

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

 

Herb Harvest

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

We are doing well.

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

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

Indigo Bunting – Photo from Pixabay

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

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

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

Drying herbs in the dehydrator

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

 

My ginger plant
My ginger plant…and Little Bear

 

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

One of my roosters

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

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

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

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

 

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