Monday, November 30, 2015

Visual Update of Things to Be Thankful For

Cirrus and Sal enjoying their recently cleaned out puddle pond.

the beginning of a new shelter

Hay stacked up by friends for the winter, the sheep are very happy.

Thanksgiving dessert laid out in the tiny house

and plenty of room for all

Lyndy in her bedroom

The final window in the tiny house (that Lyndy painted) looks great.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Perfect Timing Today

This morning, John and I went to pick up hay, three weeks later than past years.  Our hay supplier asked how many square bales I wanted and I said, "as many as you can get on the truck".  That number turned out to be 33.  On the way home, I started thinking about how hard it was going to be to get up on the truck and get all that hay off with it packed high and tight.

As we came up the final hill to our farm, we met a neighbor and friend coming to see us.  Another gift! By the time they got up to the barnyard, I had gates open and swept the hay area.  They were excited about helping to unload and one volunteered to drop the bales down from the truck while the rest of us stacked.  I supervised the stacking and maybe moved 3 or 4 bales myself.  That was the fastest we ever did that chore.  Thank you Mike and Lance!

Since the geese now have to spend the night in the run and the weather is suppose to get colder, I constructed a cozy spot for the geese.  I was going to make another small wood structure but decided to use straw bales, 2 small fence posts and a piece of cattle panel instead (for now).

I guess I will have to clean the geese tub more often now since they will be in it more being confined for so many hours.  I cleaned the puddle pond out a few days ago and it looks so nice.  The geese like it again.

Three important jobs I can check off.  Pictures tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Just when I was really enjoying the automatic chicken door opener and just when I was really relaxing into fall, a neighbor told me she saw two young bobcats crossing over to our property.  Another neighbor has seen a bigger bobcat, so it looks like we have a mother and at least two kittens living nearby.

Unfortunately, bobcats are still hunting about the time the chickens's door opens in the morning and Sunday morning 2 chickens did not show up for breakfast.  I looked about and was wondering if the hawk savvy chickens had been tricked.  It was at church a couple of hours later, that my neighbor told me about the bobcat sightings.  Later that day, I noticed that Eloise was missing a bunch of tiny neck feathers on the back of her neck.  I wonder if she was almost breakfast.

I have now adopted a new morning/evening schedule.  I have to put the geese and chickens in the run before dusk and wait until the morning shadows lift in the morning to let everyone out.  At least the automatic door let the hens out into run so they don't have to stay in the coop too long.

One positive that has come out of this, is the geese have become friendlier to the chickens now that they are sharing space longer.

I called our extension agent to see what others in the county have experienced with bobcats.  He told me they are still pretty rare around here, many fewer than bears, which seem to be everywhere this year, he said.  Unfortunately, he has had a bear killing his sheep.

One thing I have to keep in mind is, wild animals have favorite foods (same as us) and don't generally go after foods they have not previously tasted and enjoyed.  Also, bobcats and bears are territorial and we don't have other sheep in the near vicinity, so maybe the bear and bobcats in these parts haven't tasted sheep.  I read that female bobcats stay within a 5 square mile area and males 25 square miles.  The females take care of their kittens for 8-12 months and teach them to hunt on their own, this time of year.  That is particularly worrisome knowing that at least 3 are hunting.  I saw a rabbit today and a mouse so I know that some favorite food is around.  Unfortunately, I guess chicken is a favorite also.  I don't know if Cirrus and Sal permanently discourage the predators or if they will try again for goose.

I don't know how long the bobcats have been around.  Somethings I have read say they are so secretive and other reading suggests they will come right up to a house.  I am going to try not to worry too much and do as much as I can to keep the 17 animals under my care as safe as possible.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

It Is SO Quiet, Today

I can't hear the geese or the sheep.  I think everyone is lounging in the sun on a cool day.  I will go to investigate after writing this in the silence.

Besides the animals, the wind has been so loud the last couple of days.  And then there was the hammering yesterday (on the tiny house), with a strange kind of echo.

I was knitting with a neighbor the other day and we were swapping stories about the sounds we hear.  We had been hearing the train and speedway, a few days previous, and they are both over 10 miles away.  She can't hear either and was surprised I could.  Her sounds were hers.  Around here, what you hear depends on if you are on top of a hill or in a hollow, or if you have stone above you to echo back sounds.

I remember going to sheep dogs trials at another neighbors place a few years back.  The trainers use commands or whistles to direct the dogs out on the range, to circle the sheep, but it seemed like the dogs were getting the signals just too late to be efficient.  I think it was because of sounds bouncing around due to a combination of wind direction and Short Hill.

The refrigerator is so loud.  Amazing what you do hear when things are so quiet.  We have been reading and talking about fan and pump noises in tiny houses.  I think the best thing is to have everything manual instead of automatic, so one can decide when the noise will happen.

The tiny house is coming along nicely.  I will take new pictures when I go down to the barn. And speaking of pictures, I love this one Lyndy forwarded to me last night.

Thursday, November 5, 2015


One thing I especially like about my yoga teacher is that she reads us beautiful things as we are doing our poses which helps to relax and distract.  Tonight, she was reading some things from Hafiz.  She was reading about a person who was feeding a grass hopper on their hand and walking through a meadow asking if there was anything else that was better to be doing.

It made me wonder how many people take time to do these things.  Do children still watch ants carrying things from here to there?  Do they at least still catch fireflies, in the summer, in a jar and let them go?

Biologists let us know that the honey bees are declining and now the bats.  But, have we delegated the responsibility of counting plant and animal species and numbers there in, to the scientists?  I count 9 sheep, 5 chickens, and 3 geese, everyday, and sometimes John and I throw quilts out and star gaze, but we don't count the stars (maybe planes blinking as they travel across the sky) .  We don't count the birds, though I am aware there seem to be more in the winter.  There were more tiger swallowtails this summer and fewer monarchs.  There were many fewer dandelion flowers.  We used to have thousands of them.  It seems funny to have to nurture dandelions.  Makes me think about the song, "Where have all the Flowers Gone?

All this rambling, but all I really want to say is, tomorrow, after counting 9 sheep, 5 chickens, and 3 geese I think I will go count grasshoppers, beetles, hickory nuts, and walnuts.  But, I won't count stink bugs because there are thousands of them.  Yesterday, when I was thoroughly cleaning the fiber studio,  for guests coming today, they were in every dark place imaginable.

My guests today, numbered 10.  They were from the local sheltered workshop, come to see if there was a job or money to be had, in fiber production.  I have so much fiber to offer, so we were exploring possibilities.  At the end of the morning one fellow wanted to make a camouflage toboggan out of wool  but also dog or cat toys.  I alway say, "we are only limited by our imagination".