I had everyone shut in the camper while I repaired and moved fence panel sections for their yard, and I can report they are VERY happy to be able
to go back outside now. The ducks, as ducks are inclined to do, prefer
to stay outside, even in most winter weather.
In their new digs, the fowl have three layers of roosts and as you can see, they seem to want to go high. They have repurposed kitty litter packaging for nest boxes (photo above), which they have yet to use and the plywood and cement blocks at the back of the camper, when open, are the chicken door.
Saturday, November 14, 2020
I had everyone shut in the camper while I repaired and moved fence panel sections for their yard, and I can report they are VERY happy to be able
to go back outside now. The ducks, as ducks are inclined to do, prefer
to stay outside, even in most winter weather.
Monday, November 2, 2020
Are you feeling out of sorts? A bit off from the pandemic, the issues surrounding it? Is the election and all of the crazy uncertainty around that also coming to a head in your life? Let me offer a ritual that has helped me, today, to calm, ground and center myself.
I washed a window.
Now, when you stop scratching your head in confusion or laughing, hear me out.
First off, I am not talking about just washing it. And I am not talking about a major big deal house cleaning project. Just One Window. And if the weather is bad, don't fret about not being able to do the outside; that can easily be for another day.
Secondly, it does not matter what spiritual path you follow, which candidates have your vote (and if you haven't done so yet, please DO go and vote!) or whether your windows just got washed -- or by whom -- last week or even yesterday. This is a Ritual and while it involves cleaning and is, somewhat, about cleaning, it is about much more than that.
First, select your favorite window. You do have one, right? And not the one with the interior decor and window treatment that you finally got just right. This is about the view that you see through this window, so it should be your favorite window because it has your favorite view. It doesn't have to be something the Realtor would tout in an ad and maybe no one else in the world would ever see what makes it your favorite. Maybe it shows you just the right bit of sunrise or sunset at a particular time in the year. Maybe it shows you a favorite plant in the garden, or if you live on the umteenth floor of a high rise, is the place you sit to watch the clouds roll by on a summer eve, while you share a beer with your partner. But make it your favorite one.
Select your cleaning tools (I use a blue window cleaning spray and newspaper to wipe. Sometimes I have steeped an herb or two in the solution, but that is not necessary, even if you are a witch. You see, the Intent is the thing.
Before you start washing, take a few minutes to look out, contemplating what you see, both on the window and beyond it. For me, the "long term variable periodic housekeeper" that I am, let's just say that my first priority was removing the unintentional Samhain/Halloween decorations. LOL My local spinners had been busy this fall, but were no longer being seen so away went the webs. Then I went to work on the actual dirt.
This is my favorite window because it not only looks North, it also gives me a good view of my poultry and sheep, as well as the guardian dog. I often stand here, when movement catches my eye, just watching the sheep in their pasture during the spring and summer, and the chickens and ducks busily doing chicken and duck things year round.
As I began washing, I was reminded that my house likes clean windows; she likes to have clear eyes with which to look out at the world. It is part of her way of protecting us, being able to see and seen and unseen challenges beyond the walls and beyond the gates. And she is ever so appreciative of the washing. She says so, in the squeaks of the newspaper against the clean glass.
So my Intent is partly nesting and partly strengthening the protections on the place; wiping away the clingy bits of detritus that seem unavoidable these days. It's symbolic, yes, but having reassembled the window, even I feel cleaner now.
Being a witch, I will mark a sigil on the panes, top and bottom, with my saliva-dampened finger and call it good. One could end it, as well, with Words of thanks, of prayer.
However you do it, I suggest you try. Maybe tomorrow, after you vote.
Sunday, October 25, 2020
My plans went well awry, though, the next day when, sitting in the dooryard of the couple to be wed, I tried and failed to push through *something* that was beginning to wrack my body with fever and violent chills and sapped my strength to almost nothing. I never got out of the car in that dooryard and barely made it into the house when I got home.
A week later I posted *nothing* on FB, but the following day's entry indicates that I had gone to the doc and had been swabbed for the 'flu but they did nothing to alleviate any of my symptoms. Turned out I did not have the 'flu and neither did I have a diagnosis. For at least a week, all I can remember is sitting in my recliner, not wanting to eat much of the time but managing to take fluids and dozing on and off with kitty Smoke in my lap much of the time. FB shows that I did do some stuff... puttering about... but K took the brunt of life and chores, as the sheep were sheared, birds and beasts tended and so on.
Eventually I did feel like doing stuff, but the fever -- off and on -- and chills (strong enough shaking that it put my back, which had been hurting from spending 3 days spinning while tending my tent at the fair, got put back in!) persisted for much longer than expected. My stand out memory was one morning, accepting a piece of buttered toast to eat -- not the first and not the last -- the flavor hit me like I had never ever tasted anything before. Heaven in a bite of commercial bread and butter would satisfy a description! I had one more day of such enhanced taste and then my sense returned to normal. I have no explanation for this, other than to note that normally I have no sense of smell and I wonder if perhaps it kicked in for a bit then. Who knows.
I do know that, while I called myself "back to normal" after a bit, this entire past year has been a struggle, totally regardless of the pandemic. Everything from the garden, on seemed to be "behind schedule. Garlic did not get planted until spring... and it was even a late, very short spring this year and winter hung on, and summer came on hard and early. My energy reservoir is not as deep as it used to be, takes longer to refill and is depleted more quickly. And things have felt "off." I put it down to social changes due to the pandemic and my changing the routine a bit, with fewer, longer trips to town and a bit more "use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without" than usual. But honestly I do not know.
I do know that, a few weeks back, on a regular doc visit, I voiced a thought that had been floating around in my head, thinking back on my symptoms: could I have had a very early case of Covid 19 or something like it, a precursor? I expected the doc to gently disagree and turn the conversation elsewhere, but -- with my symptoms up on the screen before her at the time -- she not only agreed but allowed as how it sounded likely.
I also know that, planting garlic yesterday, in the freshly tilled soil where the multi-strand deer fence had been, somehow felt like a key to putting everything right again. I hope so.
Sunday, July 12, 2020
Well, stop right there and let's take a virtual visit to my garden through photos I took today.
We finally have had some rain, enough to make it not only possible but easy and actually FUN to pull weeds! And as you will see, I need to spend lots of time out there, doing just that!
hex signs to complete, I am finally getting my act in gear and attempting -- with support and instruction from a neighbor -- to complete a project to put vinyl composite tile that I snagged for free a couple of years ago, on the back porch floor. I should hate to admit it, but the porch flooring project -- starting with adding 3/4" plywood over the original underlayment after removing the carpet that was originally there -- started 6 years ago. This year it WILL get done. But we still need to eat, so out to the garden we go.
When I was out in the garage recently, I unearthed a mostly full bag of diatomaceous earth. I had read that one could dust potato plants "liberally" with the stuff to help with the potato bug problem. While I am not inclined to use chemical sprays, I am comfortable using DE, so I made a larger shaker, filled it up and
Looking at these images , do you see a theme here?? No soil to be seen... and no, it is not especially deliberate. but I am not in panic mode either!
and grass) and securing them to the strings I added to their support system. I had to improvise a bit because, in the chaos from both the back porch project and the multiple signs I am painting, the
official tomato clips (left) have vanished. I looked in all the likely places in both house (where I think they are hiding) and garage, but it needed doing NOW, so I improvised with one of the
So now you know; my garden is far from weed-free and will remain so even once I get the "weeding" done. While I have no proof of this, it seems to me that having other plants in and around your target species (aka food) might help confuse some of the bugs or have other benfits that we have not noticed. I have, in the length of time we have been here (going on 12 years next month) declared war on bindweed (wild morning glory) as they are most invasive and do not play well with others. It has worked, and now I seldom see one! Of course it gets pulled immediately. I do wish I could figure as good a solution for the runner grasses, though.
|Our first lettuce|
At the same time, since my goal is to supply all of our year's vegetables (I actually produce about 95% of the fresh, canned and frozen veg that we use in a year) I am thankful that I still have some packages frozen from last year's bountiful crop.
Wednesday, April 22, 2020
I have decided to move the anti-deer electric fence in, closer to the fruit and vegetable areas, rather than continuing to try to maintain a longer boundary. Neither of us is young any more, and not having so much fence to maintain, as well as being able to use more strands for the outer fence as well as more string for the inner, visual barrier, will be a good thing. All of my fruit has been nibbled on by deer over the winter.
|Miss Kitty, left and Firecat, on the laptop|
enjoying the sunshine
My workstation for this redesign is set up literally right next to the chick's tote, so I have been working to the quiet calls and conversations of the chicks. And have been close at hand to convince Miss Kitty, especially, and the Firecat to a lesser degree, that they do not need to spend all day watching chickie-vision.
Tuesday, April 21, 2020
It has been so long since I DID edits that I have been running around the mulberry bush to find the latest copy of the current site, and finally did, as well as got it onto the thumb drive so I can finally begin actual work! And work I did. I am feeling thoroughly in solidarity with those of you who are on the “work at home” track for this pandemic. It took a while, but I finally got back into the pixel-pushing groove and have been knocking out edits and additions to the Dutch Hex Sign web site today. I am hoping to have the most of it done tomorrow... but after resupplying filler for the actual hex signs, I will also have to do some filling and sanding, if not priming tomorrow. I know it's gonna be a strange day tomorrow: “computer neck” on top of a body full of muscles that don't like me much in general, and no LMT to fix me. But it is what it is and I can still moan, groan, cuss and fuss and “ignore” the pain to a large degree.
I made a good call, disconnecting the hoses last night; everyone's buckets had more than just a skin of ice and I could feel it in the hoses as well. I won't have to disconnect them tonight, though, as our low is looking to be well above the freezing mark, especially as the wind has finally abated. We have not, thus far, had a lot of rain and though the temperature is not supposed to warm much above freezing tomorrow, it is not supposed to go much below tonight.
Tomorrow will likely start with a quick trip to our little hardware store after chores though I will leave the “off farm” clothes washing until the evening. I have a replacement part for our fridge supposedly coming tomorrow (nothing mechanical..just the shelf that holds the crisper drawers, which is failing), a hex order to work on and another custom job likely coming. And with any luck, in a day or so K will cultivate so I can plant my garlic (late) and begin other gardening chores. I have lots of weed block made, and it is easiest to lay down when the soil has been recently cultivated and there is little to no wind. If necessary, I will deal with the latter to lay out rows and lay down mulch and then continue planting later.
Monday, April 20, 2020
The wind, which never seems to abate this spring, has all the wind chimes singing with vigor and I can hear it blowing around the corners of the house, flapping bits of siding and shingles, as well. I am not terribly happy with the winds *this* spring, though I used to enjoy them. Not sure what has changed. We have sun and it will warm up some but won't be like yesterday. I am glad that, though I will be going out to get plywood today, and hopefully cutting the blank for the 24” hex that has been ordered, the lumber yard is the ONLY place I need to go. Once I get chores and breakfast out of the way, I will attend to that errand and then be glad to stay home at least for a day.
On the garden front, I took a spading fork to the garden today to check on soil texture, as I am trying to keep K on track to get cultivation done for early planting, and discovered that even though the soil may not be quite warm yet (I did not have the thermometer with me) it IS dry enough to cultivate! Won't be after tomorrow's rain, but it drains quickly and knowing that he could have worked today, had the tractor and implement been ready, is helping keep my Tractor Guy headed in the right direction, despite the increase in his pain levels.
Today, with the improvements, there have been no cross-species visits though each of the cats did get on top once and left when I yelled at them.
|Large Abundance and Prosperity|
sign being installed by its owners.
I will be dropping all mention of the indoor designs, painted on fabric. They are not profitable, at all, but more to the point they are MUCH less forgiving. A random drop of paint (they do happen) that falls into a “background” (i.e. unpainted fabric) area cannot be corrected. And on the last one I did, recently as a commission for a friend, it happened on the last color! I told the client that her sign would be late because I had to repaint it but she insisted that I send it as it is. I am still uncomfortable with that, and will be painting another one for her, regardless.
I did cut the eyes off the ends of all of the 'taters that had bits of visible growth, and am letting them sit in the window sill to dry and green a bit before planting, as the instructions for “growing potatoes from peels” which I finally read, suggest.
Sunday, April 19, 2020
I heard, just yesterday, I believe it was, a discussion with a palliative care doctor, about the necessity of having end of life discussions now, when we are able to be clear headed. And to understand what hospice is, what palliative care entails, and that it is not just for end of life situations. And for everyone's sakes, do understand the money part, as unfortunately, that figures in to just about everything. Dammit. Maine Public Radio Maine Calling program link
After our town trips, we headed out to pick up chicks. Yeah, not what one thinks of in this time of social distancing, not to mention chicken hoarding! LOL But my friend Crystal, of Pajamas, Books and Chickens had hatched half a dozen for me –
On the way, we took a short digression at the new little IGA store in Brewer, as friend Bonnie had commented positively about the relative lack of empty shelves at the IGA where she shops, in Old Town. While we were in Corinth, I had stopped at the dollar store, having also heard that they did have paper products... which they did, but only plastic wrapped 4-packs of TP and we are not short enough for me to contemplate that option at present. I did want to top off, if I could, and to pick up distilled water for K's CPAP and my steam iron, as they did not make it onto my list earlier in the week. Lo and behold, the IGA came through and I got the three rolls, 2 gallons and a nice bag of lettuce that looks to hold well, as well as a box of terribly out of season strawberries for a treat with the last of the pound cake.
|Firecat meets Miss Kitty. There were hisses|
later in the day, but none on the initial
Saturday, April 18, 2020
We learned last evening that apparently the cable guys have been kicking butt in the repair game and our re-connection is to happen this afternoon, rather than Saturday. I will be glad to get the weather web site back and be able to read the news, but I am going to try to use this past outage to help me downgrade the time I spend online. I have been so much more productive in the recent past, especially once the power came on and hot baths were once again available Not being able to sit and wile away time here – the Internet does suck one in, we all know – has contributed to my productivity but also to my pain and stiffness level. Despite my soak last night, I am dragging more than I would like prior to a demanding and stressful resupply mission... but oh, well. 'Tis time and I shall give it a go. I am not going to stop at WalMart, which will change my buying a bit as I am not sure if some of the things I typically buy in larger quantities have ever been available at Hannaford, let alone what I will find today. We could, easily, go another month or more without bringing in anything extra, though the meals would begin to require a bit more creativity. But with the supply line challenges, I really do not want to go that route and I do not think that a once a month grocery shopping trip is out of the question. I will need to venture out again tomorrow, most likely, just to our little berg to post the hex sign, as I did not get the cardboard cut to package it last night.
Stock continues to be “iffy” with many categories of products showing empty and near-empty shelves. Paper products are still missing and cleaning products are spotty, with limits in place in those categories. I did score a gallon of bleach (of a type I am willing to use, even! I do not like the new fancy scented or thickened versions) but was not able to top off our supply of peanut butter, as I refuse to buy the standard commercial brands with thickened fat and sugar added. I feel sorry for the folks who are not comfortable cooking from scratch, or whose families prefer packaged, commercial products. Many of those options were badly picked over. I had heard, in the past, that potatoes were hard to come by, but Hannaford had two big pallet-size boxes of bags of them. I believe I saw both russets and reds, though I did not look closely as we do not need any yet. I did manage to find a bag of apples (unfortunately plastic) from a local orchard, and some other fresh produce that will be good keepers. There was no shortage, but since I was buying for the month, I had to keep storage life in mind.
In this vein I have to mention K's diabetic nurse, with whom he had a telephone consult instead of the usual in office visit this week. She was seriously checking in with him about many things, his normal health and pandemic- and storm/power outage-related issues as well. In the course of their conversations, she shared that in recent times she, personally "almost ran out of food" in the house. I had a discussion about shopping, stocking up, etc with a friend recently who shared the opinion that "we're in Maine, folks keep a stash." I have had a sense that, regardless, an unfortunate number of folks -- even those who may not have issues with food insecurity in other contexts ... professional people, those with sufficient income, etc. -- do not plan ahead for such times. Her sharing of her experience, though only one anecdote, seems to give some confirmation to my perception.
My non-food stop was at Tractor Supply, to search out a hose nozzle of the type K needs. They do not carry them in the regular selection of hose stuff, and the clerk I asked concurred with my observation, but I gave a second, detailed look in the bins of specials that they show when you enter the store, as I had a feeling I might find one there, which I did. I also found a small stash of the infrared temperature thermometers! There were, on Thursday, about 10 of the units at the Bangor, Maine Tractor Supply store. There was also a customer playing his car radio loudly enough that I passed the time while waiting in the line by dancing along with the beat. When one can, one *should* dance!
Friday, April 17, 2020
I am beginning to plot out our monthly shopping trip, for later in the week. I have asked K for a list of the things he usually buys, on a weekly or as needed basis, and an estimate of how much he uses in a week. After our discussion about the juice he uses to mix his evening drinks, I am not even going to tell him what the monthly quantity will be. He has never been a monthly shopper and I will admit that often, when you are just beginning monthly shopping, the scaling up causes one of two reactions. One is “gee, that's not very much...” which causes one to over-buy, thinking your estimate is off. The other is the OMFG reaction, as you cannot believe you use that much
With the on and off power issues of late, I want to take a
digression to make a shout out to Pillsbury Grands frozen biscuits. We had 8 remaining in the bag when the electric issues started and the bag had thawed, so I improvised “fried dough” from them as a base to serve thawing “sausage” gravy before it went bad. Knowing that many folks' fried dough recipe uses a quick bread (my family always used yeast breads) I figured it would work, which it did. However, the 4 remaining thawed bits of dough that were once biscuits were still in the fridge, not the freezer, during the period when the power was back on, so they sat, thawed, in the cool for an extra day. This morning, wanting to use up an actual patty of breakfast sausage in gravy, I had planned to try “baking” them on the stovetop in a dutch oven. However, the electric had come back on, so I heated up the oven, threw them on a baking sheet and put them in for 15 min, hoping they would still manage to resemble biscuits more than the hockey pucks we have been known to eat, as a result of my “from scratch” attempts at this southern staple. Boy was I impressed! Other than their odd shapes, the result of my attempts to separate each from its fellows, they rose, looking and tasting no different than their “baked while frozen” kin.
This really put a kink in the weeks plans. No, not TV withdrawal or even gaming withdrawal but K had THREE remote medical appointments scheduled for this week, which will not only not happen but having a VOIP telephone, there was no way to notify anyone! Eventually I suggested sending each of the providers a postcard, explaining the situation. He wrote them and I carried them to the post office as they were closing. Even if the first one does not get there in time, at least there will be documentation that we TRIED.
I think that my off grid life 'back in the day' with a minimal system that we augmented with oil and propane lamps, and for quite a few years having had to haul water (at least from the hand pump at the cistern in the yard) and heat it as needed for all purposes have given me a different default setting for power outages, that this “2-fer” has triggered. I find myself falling into the habit of planning what to do when, based on how much actual daylight I will have and plotting what I will do once twilight arrives and my only light is from my admittedly large collection of oil lamps. Even 'back in the day' I had the habit of carrying a flashlight in my pocket for the times, twilight and after, that I needed to find something that was hiding in the shadows. I have also found myself thinking “do I need to put on something else before I go out, so I don't get chilled” or mentally fussing at an unexpected sore muscle, until I remember “Oh, I can just run a hot bath tonight!” I still (3 days later as I edit this for posting) have to remind myself to turn on electric lights as twilight falls.
Thursday, April 16, 2020
Also on the "needful things" list is a good round of emptying, sorting and cleaning fridge and freezer. I am sure there will be a few treats for the fowl and likely even the dog, though considering what we *could have* lost had we opened the chest freezers, it's no biggie. I am planning the monthly resupply mission for late in the week and the trash run on Saturday, so we should start the week next with a full supply of provisions and an empty trash can. Oh, the things that bring joy in these days!
While I am thinking of it, I want to note that I do not, off the top of my head, recall more than 2 of our standard food stuffs that we are currently OUT of (that being frozen biscuits and fish sticks, neither of which is essential) so while I will be just topping off the supplies, I do intend to do it. I have never quite had a year's supply, as was the goal under the LDS mandate when I followed that path, but I have always had a goodly stash, even if we did have to "eat funny" during some of the harder times. I know the kids got *really* tired of oatmeal for breakfast at one point. That was, however, before chickens. And the hens, both chicken and duck, are being generous with their offerings. I am crossing my fingers that *someone* will go broody at some time this year. I do, though, have a few "replacement" fowl on order from a friend's incubators and thankfully, they were able to keep the heat going with a generator during the last outage. For a wonderful story of the lengths we go to, to keep our fluffy babies happy, check out a post from Pajamas, Books and Chickens. You will have to scroll down to the April 10 entry about the storm and power outage at their farm.
|Not sure if this|
was the one mentioned
|Pole serviced my mechanic's|
elderly aunt and has now
been replaced, along with one
in her yard that was all the
When the electric actually had gone down, before sundown, I was just getting ready to wash up the last of the most gross greasy dishes and the plates and such that we had used since my first big “water is back on” load of dishes. Not knowing how long we would be off grid this time, I determined to wash them up with snow melt heated on the stove. Of all the "power is down" chores there are, washing dishes in snow melt or stored water is my least favorite necessary task. We do not have a proper rinse side dishpan, and even if we did, rinsing in still water is not my favorite thing. But I got them done.
Sunday, April 12, 2020
|Snow depth on our front deck|
after shoveling a path for the
cat to go out. There were birds
looking for food, so Tractor Guy
helped them out.
|Moose, the LGD, says "I |
cannot find my food bucket!"
|Enterprise, L and Major Tom, |
R, wonder if I can find the
|Painted wooden "Easter Egg" |
got help hiding from families
in town doing a "social distance"
Easter egg hunt!
|Paper feed sacks|
recycled into weed
block. Thank you, Blue
Seal, for still selling
some feed in paper!
Two of the worst effects of the pandemic and the power outage for this old farmer/artist are my inability to continue the body maintenance protocols that have kept me moving with relative ease as I continue into my 70s. My massage therapist, Melissa at Don't Worry, Bee Happy Healing is, logically, closed for the duration of the pandemic. I have been "making do" with lots of hot soaks in Epsom salts and applications of CBD salve.
|Smoke, L and Miss Kitty, R|
I was going to need a slow day, so determined in advance that I would spend much of the day "under a cat." Fortunately it is not hard to find one around here, and since Smoke is currently nicknamed "wide load" (expecting kittens some day soon) she was more than willing to oblige.
We do not have a generator (neither of us can stand the racket) so our power outage protocols include not opening the chest freezers, but focusing on eating up what is in the fridge and its small freezer. Our gas stove gives us burners, but we have to be creative with things usually cooked in the oven, as it required grid elecric to light. During the outage we dined on a slice of ham, which was thawing, with a side of homemade mac and cheese and applesauce, left over fried chicken with instant mashed potatoes and left over home made cranberry sauce and a meal of fish sticks, cooked on top of the stove in a cast iron skillet with more of the "cheater" potatoes and home made apple-celery salad. Since the package of frozen Pillsbury biscuits was thawed this morning (even after spending years living in the south, I cannot make a proprer biscuit to save my life!) I tried deep frying them and served the left over 'sausage' gravy I had frozen from Tractor Guy's making a couple of weeks back. I had grabbed plain frozen pork patties instead of our home made sausage, so he improvised and ended up making enough for at least two small southern families! LOL I made the biscuits doughnut shape, cutting the centers out with a shot glass, just to make sure they got done all the way through. Worked great!
|Two new to me antique kerosene lamps|
inherited from my late friend, Morg,
got their first use this weekend. Aren't
From my large collection of kerosene lamps, all of which are filled for use, to my spinning wheels and spindles, treadle sewing machine and so on, there is never a shortage of things to do! I learned this weekend, working on the wooden Easter egg, as well as on the current hex in process, that I can paint by the light of a couple of kero lamps! It takes a bit longer and a bit more care, but I should have the most recent project ready to show you tomorrow!