Wednesday, November 16, 2011

with a grateful heart

According to Blogger, this is my 100th post (though I think of the first two as nothing more than microphone checks.)
It's hard to think of a time when I wasn't tapped into this world. What began as a means to keep Jerome close to me and the everyday ordinary/extra-ordinariness of the farm, has morphed into a sort of IV transfusion for this sometimes dispirited soul. In the spirit of Thanksgiving and gratitude, I think it is most fitting to celebrate my 100th post by sending my deep appreciation to each of you who have become my good friends.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Some folks say that 11 is a lucky number. Well then, yesterday should have won the triple crown of good luck days.
It was a good fortune day for two little Chocolate India Runner Ducks named Pixie and Tootsie. As sad as I was to say goodbye to the little girls I'd been interacting with daily for the past 5 months, I was very happy to have found such a perfect home for them.
Dwayne, a young father who works at Chet's Seed store in Richland Center, agreed to take them in. He raises Runner Ducks and has a wonderful setup for them. He also has 2 young sons who really love ducks and are eager to help their dad take care of them.

They couldn't have been cuter when they first arrived. Their bills and webbed feet were like the finest deep chocolate leather. They never really liked being around people, although Phillip, who has the most remarkable way with wildlife, was able to get Pixie to stand on his hand.

Originally we had 3. Snickers, the largest and self-proclaimed big sister, lost her head this past September. They stayed close to each other all the time, and I wonder if they'll continue to do so when they are with others at their new home.

They did venture out onto the snow, but quickly waddled back into their little house to snuggle close together. They were braver about the snow than the chickens were.
Now they'll have a large shed with a deep bed of straw to snuggle into. They'll have two little boys who will adore them. They'll live out their short lives, 3-4 years, doing what ducks do with access to food, water, and other ducks, and without the fear of predators. They may become moms!
So goodbye, Pixie and Tootsie. I'll deeply miss hearing your laughter out there near the potting shed. I'll miss tucking you in at night. Happy lucky new life.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

e is for egad! and eleven

I've just waved goodbye to Jerome after another wonderful few days spent together working here at the farm. He arrived just at sunset on Sunday. We had checked the weather forecast and knew we only had one good day to complete a long list of outside jobs before rain and possible snow arrived. So Monday we worked til near dark, a while after the chicks and ducks were secured for the night. The nearly full moon was already being swallowed by thickening clouds. Just before the last of the daylight left the sky we saw one enormous V of geese flying very high overhead, calling encouragement to each other.
Tuesday we worked around the rain in the garage, the basement, running to the store and trying to find someone who could identify what made the check engine light come on in Jerome's Jeep. Wednesday morning he had planned to leave late morning but when we got up we were in the midst of the first snow of the season. And though it wasn't quite what folks experienced in the east at Halloween, it was enough to cause a widespread brown out and then a black out, cause people to end up in ditches and keep our electrician from being able to spend the day here, and to keep Jerome from driving back to the city as planned.

Now our 5 and 1/2 month old chickens and ducks had never seen snow. And fortunately the large limbs that fell from our giant pine above the potting shed landed outside the duck enclosure.

When I opened the chicken door those in front stood absolutely still as the entire flock pushed against them from behind.  I can't help but wonder what they thought as they saw nothing but white and felt the heavy wet snowflakes hit their little beaky faces. You can see one of the Auracanas is practically climbing the tin wall to keep from going down into the snow. And Number One, one of our roosters, wouldn't leave the house at all. That's him above watching through the window.

By late afternoon the sun was out and the moon rose in the sky side by side with Jupiter. However, this morning once again it was snowing when we got up and continued to snow until just as Jerome left. Here and there I can see a tiny patch of blue trying to erase the chalky clouds around it.
Without having to look very hard I find some bit of grace to fill the heart just when it's needed most.  It's always fun working side by side with Jerome here at the farm. And always agony to have to say goodbye. But I'll be traveling to the city soon and Jerome plans to come spend New Year's Eve here again this year. We both look forward to living here together all the time. We both know what's involved between now and then and I am ever thankful that we have the strength and courage to face it.

Oh, and what about eleven??? Well, yesterday, the chickens produced 11 eggs, a single day's record.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

confession of a pinecone fanatic

I have to confess: I've taken pinecones out of every national park, botanic garden and arboretum I've ever visited. I cannot resist. Who could doubt the Divine while contemplating their perfect form?

While putting things to rights after the electrical disruption I came across a pinecone stencil I purchased and hadn't yet used.

I had forgotten just how much I love to stencil! Delightful fun.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

d can only be for Dovey

One year ago this weekend Dovey began her great farm adventure. She is the single reason why I have the strength and courage to stay here on our ridgemeadow farm on my own.
Dovey is a full throttle, no holds barred, all or nothing feline. She chases, catches and devours with relish almost any bug she can find, though she's learned that Asian Lady Beetles should be left alone. Every window needs to be clear of obstacles so she can perch at will and monitor all activity beyond the glass.

She loves to lend her paw to any project I'm working on.

She will literally get in my face while I'm on the computer to get my attention.

Most nights she's curled up around my legs while I'm sleeping and accompanies me to the bathroom no matter how often I need to visit there. Her favorite toy is the inside plastic ring of a Scotch tape dispenser and she will chase, hunt, catch and return it or leap to try to catch it in mid air. She is ready to initiate these games numerous times of day, or night... If I don't put this "toy" away at bedtime, she may drop it on me as I sleep or I may step on it next to the bed in the night, or worse, on the stairs going down to the bathroom in my bare feet. Not pleasant nocturnal activities, and so I usually try to show her I'm putting it in the drawer at bedtime. She actually will sit under that drawer in the morning and ask to play. I've tried to teach her that when there are others in the house we don't start playing until everyone is up. She seems to know this now. If you ever visit, and you come down in the morning and find Dovey sitting under the drawer farthest left on the buffet, she's asking you to play.

She's in a bit of a hurry when using her littler box, not thorough and fastidious like her pal Mya.  But she is a remarkable groomer. Her white is very white and she always smells so clean. She's what Anne calls a loud licker. You can hear her grooming from across the house. Her purring, on the other hand, is very understated. Not rumbling and  boistrous, but  soft and unmistakable when she's decided to climb up on my lap, put her paws up on my chest and snuggle. This is a little ritual of hers, after dinner while I'm crocheting in front of a movie borrowed from the library. She'll jump up beside me, look at me as if to say "Move that stuff!" and when I clear my lap she moves in. A little bit of heaven for the both of us for as long as she's willing to sit still.
She knows when I'm feeling unwell, blue, lonely. At those times she postpones her own agenda and keeps me in sight offering herself in whatever way seems best.
As hard as she plays, she has the enviable ability to turn off and go into a deep sleep in a blink.
Mya can see into my soul. Dovey knows every contour of my heart.