Friday, September 18, 2015

Empty Space

When I look down toward the barnyard, I see Lyndy's Tiny House and have this feeling of …….. longing, is the first word that comes to mind.  And sweetness and specialness and endearment.  Sometimes, I worry that when the tiny house leaves there will be an empty spot in my heart and I wonder what that is about.  I know that the tiny house will  probably only be here 6 more months, so I have to identify what it means to me.

What comes to mind, is hours spent as a child laying on my back thinking of the ceiling as a floor, as a floor of an essentially empty house.  I am sure everyone or as least many have done this.  I am also certain a reoccurring dream I have is an archetypal dream; the one where you find an empty room in a house you have been living in for many years, and you get so excited.  Does it all just mean that we  have become too busy in our lives and we yearn for simplicity.  Or is it about wanting to go in a new direction or discover something new in our lives.

I have alway loved camping; sleeping in a tent, or now sleeping and waking up in my van looking at trees.  I take deep breaths and take in the natural world.  The animals have a great Empty barn they hang out in a lot, sheep napping (the sheep don't sleep there at night).  I love to go down there early in the morning, when they are still out in the pasture, and rake the dirt floor for them.  It makes me feel like I am camping somehow.  At least it gives me that wonderful feeling of simplicity of life, like I had when I lived on a 26 foot Chinese Junk for a year.

I am so happy for Lyndy that she will get to experience that simplicity of life.  I love reading about other people who live in tiny houses and what they treasure about them.

I feel lighter just from getting rid of extraneous clothes and having, now, only clothes that bring me joy.  I went through my books but need to redo that segment of the plan.  I can't wait to be at the end of the paper phase of the process.  And then--- the rest, at which time all of my things may fit in a tiny house but I will be living in a tidy house not a tiny house.

Here are some pictures of Lyndy's Empty House

I guess it isn't really empty; there is a radio, a couple of ladders,  a few tools and some nails.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Knowing Where Your Food Comes From

When I was walking with my walking buddies the other morning, Katie suddenly stopped to pick some wild mustard.  She has written several books on wild edibles and has been gathering since she was 4 years old.  She invited me to stop in to her place for some steamed wild mustard at the end of our 3 miles.  I excitedly accepted her invitation.  Talk about "knowing where your food comes from".  The mustard was superb.  It reminded me of when I lived in corn country in the midwest and everyone said to be really good, you had to eat an ear of corn within an hour of picking it.  The mustard greens were eaten in that time frame.

My brother, John, has shown  me several times what you can eat but I forget.  I asked Katie if she would walk around the farm here and tell me what I should be eating.  She said she would.

  I know a few things that are good for the sheep but they don't last in the pastures because the sheep seem to have no sense of the importance of selective eating to make sure the species survives.  I know it is hard when there are 8 others competing with each sheep but IT'S IMPORTANT.  Now is a good time to plant because there are bare spots and the weather is cooling off so I shall try to plant some new GOOD stuff.  I know I want to plant dandelion (imagine planting dandelion) and wild garlic should be on the list.  What else?  I want to make sure they like what I plant because we all know that just because something is good for us doesn't mean we are going to eat it.  I would say Gretta and Sarah and maybe Annie are the best eaters (willing to try new things) around here.  Even the chickens are fairly selective.  I found out yesterday they don't like raisin bread, or at least not Ezekiel raisin bread.

I wish the few people who read this would make suggestions as to what I should plant for the animals.

The pastor at my church does children's messages about the abundance of wild food that God has planted for us and how if something catastrophic happens, like getting lost in the woods, there is always plenty to eat.  And think how much money can be saved and you don't even have to weed the crop-- usually what you are eating are the weeds.

Bon app├ętit  and keep those plant suggestions coming in.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Altering Behavior 101

What do you do when an infant is holding something dangerous or  doing something that could get them in trouble?  You offer them something enticing and slip the dangerous item away without any fuss.  If it is a troublesome behavior, you show them what good behavior could lead to.

When I returned the third rooster, Laure and I were walking back to my car from her coop, and she suddenly asked me if I had a light in my coop.  I don't.  She told me a light in her coop is on a timer which signals the chickens to come in to a safe place.  Later, it goes out but I am not sure when the radio, (tuned to NPR) goes off.  So Laure thinks not having the light to call him in, is why Sideshow Bob slept outside and also, most recently Randy Rooster.

Unfortunately, after Randy invited one of the hens to sleep in the tree with him, she decided she should try it herself.  I don't know if she is hoping he will come back or she just likes sleeping outside.

Forgetting all my wisdom about encouraging good behavior instead of punishing bad, last night I tried shaking the tree branch and spraying water from the hose, to get the hen to come down.  She just tightened her grip and then went to another unsafe branch.  The tree hen survived the night.  I wonder if she slept through the heavy rain.  Anyway, tonight I shall offer them all a bedtime snack to get the errant hen to change her behavior.

We are going to try something similar at Boxerwood.  The staff is always complaining that the play trail gets over use from kids, especially older siblings of tiny tots.  They were originally trying to come up with ways to reduce the wear by omitting some of the kids.  Now, the plan is to create something just as exciting, but for a slightly older aged child, in another area of Boxerwood.  I am going to be a part of the new creative endeavor and I am excited.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Writing Is On The Wall

It is in rooster language and must be faint or in a corner of the coop somewhere.  The last three roosters, including the one that just came, spent a few to many nights in the coop, but then decided to sleep outside.  They must have seen, etched somewhere in the walls or ceiling of the coop, "If you are a rooster, don't sleep here or a raccoon will come in the night and take you away".  Unfortunately the roosters who have come, have come from farms where they were sleeping in chicken coops, and don't know about safe places to sleep outside.  The one who is here now, has slept the last two nights in a tree.

The night before last, I could not find the rooster when I went to close the coop.  I didn't know if he was still around.  I looked everywhere.  But yesterday morning we heard him crowing so we knew he was still with us.  I went down to see if I could see where he had spent the night but saw no sign of him until I let the hens out of the coop and he dropped down, from the tree by the coop, to chase them around.

Last night, I should have gone down a bit earlier than I did, to coax him into the coop.  We had a visitor for the night and we were talking at dinner, so when I did get there, the rooster was in the same tree AND he had invited one of the hens to join him.  I asked John how he had done that and he just said, "sometimes you get lucky."  They were too high to get safely from a ladder so I had to try other means to get them down.  I tried moving the branch with a rake and tried pushing them with the rake but they just tightened their grip on the branch.  I even took the water bucket and flung the water at them but most of it didn't make it high enough.  The whole time Cirrus, Sal, and Eloise were watching me wondering what I was doing but finding it amusing.  I gave up and let them sleep in the tree.

This morning, the rooster kept crowing and crowing early, so I went down to let the others out before he convinced them all to join him tonight.  Now, I will have to get them in the run early somehow, and then close the doors so they have to go to the coop to roost.  If I can accomplish this, I will have to take the third rooster back to my friend.  Sad thing is, I like all three roosters.

I guess no more roosters for awhile cause the writing is on the wall.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Early September Notes

I have a few diehard follower who let me know when I have not written anything in awhile, and then I think, "what have I been doing?"

Well, I have been dyeing wool with late summer plants, for one thing.

Thanks to some good friends, we were able to process several plant dyes.  One of the greens is from some dark purple dahlias my friend Lindy brought over.  Ryan is a pokeberry fan and I wanted to try jewelweed. (what a lovely orange)  The dark skein on the left is from some fermented wineberries.  Next year I will collect many more berries.  Now I want to try the autumn olive berries.

When I am not dyeing wool or spinning, I am researching hybrid water systems schematics for Lyndy's tiny house.  I found a good one on a marine sight.  

Much of my time lately has been devoted to chicken psychoanalysis.  I got 2 roosters from a friend a couple of weeks ago.  They were sweet roosters but one of them decided it did not want to sleep in the coop at night.  That in itself is not a bad thing, but this rooster picked bad places to roost, so that I had to go out before dark to see where he was and then wait until he was half asleep and move him to the coop.  I decided to take him back before a raccoon got him or I fell off a ladder.  Two nights before I was to take him back, the other rooster started the unsafe behavior, so I took them both back.  My friend gave me another rooster to try and so far so good (but it has only been 2 nights.  I tried to figure out why they did not want to go into the coop (intimidated by the geese or one of the hens?).  I went down early to see what happened before bedtime but nothing seemed deterring.  I guess this will be another unsolved mystery.  And then there were 2 chicken deaths within a couple of weeks.  (sudden coop deaths)  The first, I found on her back like she had fallen from her perch in the night.  The second, was laying on the bedding facing into a corner of the coop.  When you research "dead chickens in the coop" interesting things come up like: falling off a high roost and braking a neck, heart attack from fright, stroke, all kinds of things humans die from in the night.  

We have had a few visitors and another coming Monday.  I have been enjoying spending more time just hanging out on the farm.  The fall is busy with fiber weekend things, though, so I might have to say good bye to the lazy days of Summer.