Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The whirligigs of the Milkweed

Remember as young children, walking to school in late fall.... the leaves were dancing to the rhythms of the north wind, geese were flying overhead in perfect V formations, sparkling Blue Jays called to the crows in the woodland..... and the Milkweed plants prepared to whirl.  We gathered up the grayish pods, and with great anticipation pulled the silken parachutes that were hanging tightly to the seeds....... blew them into the wind, like soap bubbles , watching them bounce and sway on the lite breezes, doing their swan dance as if to attract the the rays of sunlight and project them onto the tall grasses that opened up their arms to receive all the babies that were about to alite.  Each seed had a definite path way down to the dry earth, to await the cool fall rains that would eventually sink them into the soil to await the arrival of spring.  Mother Earth would soon pull the blankets of snow closely, to protect each young life and escort it into its own journey into the world.

As I walked the dogs down the quiet driveway, the milkweeds that had so boldly presented their pink blossoms not too long ago, and provided comfort to the Monarc Butterflies, now hung their heads down, heavy with burdens of coming year. I purposely do not allow cutting on the South Side of the drive, so the milkweeds  can grow and prosper in peace, with only the deer, or other wildlife mingle and tread paths between the wood lines and the fields.  Its fall..... and so much has been done this year,   The drifting oak leaves throw caution to the wind, and become friends with my shoes, as they too are finding their own place to mingle with the earth..... and protect all the fallen weed seeds the past summer from the heavy snows that are sure to come.  The dark shadows in the wood line, open up with the setting sun, all the hiding places of the squirrels are now in full view, and outlines of deer can be seen if one looks very closely.  They too have changed their colors, blending in with the warm browns, reds and gold of the frivolous grass heads that are daring anyone to defy them, like the cold winter breezes.

The long lonely farm  roads where the corn has matured, and now changed to a golden brown, has the huge reaper with shears not unlike the one we used to shear the Alpacas, travel the distance of the field, eating up each row, spitting out the stalks and keeping the corn cobs, which will later be loaded on trucks, shelled , dried and follow their destination to parts unknown.  Soy beans have been picked, weeks ago, along with the gigantic hay bales that sat unguarded, waiting for tractors and the wagons to carry them into barns for forage later in the year.

It is Fall in the Northland, and I too have planted, cultivated and prepared our harvest to rest in the jars in the pantry, and the freezers that await in the garage.  The horseradish has been dug, and made into sauce, the onions have been dried and spun into powder, along with the wild velvety, yet pungent smell of the hot peppers that did so well in the hot, dry summer we had this year.  The apples have been transformed into juice, along with the tomatoes, and sit with vibrant color on the shelves.  The garden has been washed of its weeds, and vegetation, only the Kale  and Parsley await their fate.  Corn stalks have been pulled and slowly thrown over the fence into the pasture to the alpacas and goats, who share their bounty with the chickens along with the expired broccoli and green plants who have fulfilled their misson.

  My shoes no longer stick to the sugary floors, as the jams and jellies have taken their respectful places on the shelves, and the residue has long been mopped up.....only the squash and pumpkins remain to be put away for the winter and set silently in the garage awaiting their turn....It is fall and a time to take a break from the dirt that has tarnished my nails, and constantly set my back on fire from the undimishable weeds that persisted and had to be pulled for days at a time.

The time has come to become acquainted with the skeins of yarns that have lain silent, and to sew the funny squares again on my sewing machines that have not been used in months.  My material stash calls to me in anguish, as I have not had the time to find the energy it requires...... to sew into practical articles the things that they too are destined for in the near future.  The stacks of copies of quilts I will never live long enough to make .......cover the open spaces that remain, as I have collected them all summer as if to remind myself that there are other things that remain to be accomplished besides the garden.  The cool rainy fall days remind me of the things to come, and all the time I will have while watching the snowflakes cover  and protect the ground from the cold wrath of winter.

However, I will miss  hearing the wind call to me from the wood lines, as the windows will now be closed, and the owls that talk and call in the depth of the ravines....all will be silent.  I have placed the bird feeders now on the outside of the window sill, so I can watch and hear the chattering of the now brown finches, and the harsh dismay of the Bluejays as they banter along the colorless trees, chasing the woodpeckers, and other tree ramblers from their perch.  The redheaded woodpecker delights in the newly made suet hanging above the sunflower seeds that sit in the feeder below, while the nuthatch's await their turn.

The snow fence is the last thing we must set up, as the chicken coop has been cleaned for the last time, and nests filled with hay, wood chips on the floor.  Straw in the goat shed, and all cracks and crannies filled........ so that the wind will not blow in the stray snow that manages to creep in.  The waterers are plugged in as there is already ice on the top in the cool morning, and soon I will have to be carrying water to sheds while managing the snowbanks that seem to want to make my life more of a challenge.

These are the lessons that the milkweed teaches me, it is soon to be a long cloudy winter,...... where the sun no longer warms the ground, and taunts me with the memories of what was and what will be.   I have tossed my memories of the long hearty summer into a book of the past, soon to begin another in the book of the future....so as the seeds of the milkweed will sleep thru the months and begin their own replenishment of the earth next year.  Meanwhile I will content myself with the tracks of the field mice in the  newly fallen snow,  the call of the northern lights in the deep of the night, and watch the mighty north wind wield his sword of cold,...... while keeping warm in front of the wood stove and dissolving the piles of material stash into articles of importance........well maybe......only the seeds of the milkweed knows.,

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Sentinal

Time has a way of curving gently over hills and dales, and before one knows it, the days have drifted away, leaving weeks, months behind with only the future to enjoy.   That's the way it seems here on the homestead these days, each curve has held new demands, each hill new challenges, with little time to contemplate what has occurred, or what the lies ahead behind or over the next hill.

Its June, at least that's what the calendar says, but its been cool, actually had to fire up the pellet stove last night, and today the sun shines amid the soft fluffy clouds while the wind whispers around each corner of the house and plays with the new bright green leaves of the trees, saying , catch me if you can.  The hay in the unmown field still sways like ocean breezes, waiting for the the swift sharp cut of the mower to open the thick grass protecting the baby rabbits in their soft warm nests, and the nestling of the new fawns awaiting their mother's return while warming their noses in the warm rays of the sun. Birds are everywhere, the dull colored calm females on their nest of eggs, while their mates judiciously  fly from branch to branch, making sure all is safe from marauders that are constantly on the prey of such things.   Down the way a bit is a dirt road that has became a haven for the great female snapper turtles who  have come up from the ponds below  to lay their eggs in the sandy edges of the road, but word has come down that those nests were opened up later by the bandits of the woods, who stole the eggs for a grand lunch in the dark of the night.  We can only hope that some of the eggs survived and will hatch to continue their life span for years to come. I watched as  one of  the slow moving rock colored mothers, made her way across the span of the road, and slowly carefully, dug out her nest, carefully, patiently making sure that it was just right. All the effort and struggle seem to be lost in the process of the night, as time sped on making her eggs a meal for another, be it raccoons, or coyotes and make short work of all commotion that went on in the silence of the daylight.

The arrival by post of a mothers day gift from my son and his wife, and their girls...... set things into motion here.  A beautiful Chalet type bird house, fit for any proud wren or chickadee was promptly set up, high on a white steel pole above my rock garden, to sway and taunt the winds that blow so proudly up here on the hill. And though a wren sang his heart out in the nearby tree, a flash of blue came dashing through the air and landed on the small porch of the house, and tried the door.  Alas, it was not made for the his broad shoulders, and when his mate tried, she also met with defeat.  Watching this from my window, as I sewed, for a day or two, I promptly ordered a matching blue bird house to appease the wants and needs of this couple. Later that week, in picking Tim up from Medford, we happened upon a Farmers Market...... and found another, not so fancy, old time blue bird house to add to the collection.  We nestled both houses on poles a decent distance from the other in the rock garden..... and in less than an hour, the male was inspecting each one to see if it met his standards.  Next he brought his mate, and together they tried to make a decison as to which house was best.....now that took some concentration, inspection,  and long discussions.  I think they settled on the old fashion one,....cant be sure...., but he has kept constant watch from the mast of the old boat, or the other bird houses, and swoops down to attack any one who may fly by and inspect the neighbor hood for themselves.  Mean while his mate has been carrying bits of material to set up her new home.....while he defends his property and keeps constant vigilance from near by....  This proud sentinel of the rock garden can be seen hiding in the near by tree ready to avenge any wing that comes near, including the swallows,( who by the way, to the dismay of my husband, have already taken over the rafters of our garage) but  my bluebird sentinel mainly rests atop the old boat mast, which gives a better perspective of his domain thru out the daylight hours, sometimes bringing a tidbit to his mate ....,or bathing in the stone birdbath basin while keeping a wary eye on passersby.  Meanwhile the wind plays merrily around the home, swaying it with its strong breath,  gently rocking it to the beat of  its own rhythm.  As I watch from my window, time seems to stop and watch also...this new vestibule of life that goes on forever.

Most things are planted in the garden, just tomatoes and peppers to set it, it has been so cold at night, that I hesitate to plant till this weekend, the ground was slow in warming up this year.  For Mothers Day, the girls and their partners came down,..... Larry cut down and apart the trees in the back wood line that had fallen during one of the rain storms....... while the others tilled, and carried the compost from the pile outside the garden fence and deposited on the plots inside the garden fence, lots of work, but it was a beautiful day, and that compost heap had been fermenting for a couple of years, so was in perfect shape to transpose my garden.  We dug out the extra strawberry plants for them to take back to their own homes, ...last year I had planted only 25 plants, and this year I had way over 100 or so....in full bloom, so needed to thin out a few.  The raspberry bushes are doing well, along with the cherry trees which evaded the hard frosts we encountered sporadically, and are full of cherries, along with the apple and plum trees, if all goes well, and we have enough rain there will be plenty to do in late summer.  And wonder of wonders......along our long driveway, dancing along the wood line are full white blossoms atop hundreds of strong wide bushes,......the black berries have migrated out of the thick prickly woods, onto the open grassy narrow field and again, with enough rain, I may have baskets full of black berries, if I can beat the birds and the bears to them that is.

Speaking of bears, the encounter this year, was far different from past years.  I had just come back from Medford, and sat down at the computer, when the dogs went wild....the alpacas were sounding their warning calls, and the Guinea hen was screaming from the top of the shed.   Someone had trespassed into their realm, and they were  not happy.  Quietly watching from the pasture fence, I finally spotted the culprit, a medium sized bear was sizing up the landscape and patrolling the fenced in pasture.....after yelling at him for a couple of times, he raced down the ravine.......only to reappear up by the bee hives (which are empty) and stood there, with the 8 foot fence between he and the dogs and I, and swung his massive head from side to side, while the dogs barked,the alpacas screamed and I yelled at him.  He was not afraid... as bears before him....who had ventured up were.....and stood there as if daring us to do something about his presence.  Finally after I banged on the steel fence posts with another post he took off down the ravine......and that I thought was it.....but instead , no more than 20 minutes later he was up behind the house, by the bird feeders, but that wasn't what he was after,.....he was coming to gate by the fence......he wanted to see what the garbage cans held for him.....unmindful of the dogs barking....he wanted in the fence......another series of banging ..yelling....he finally turned away, and lurked in the wood line, till I finally called the neighbor who came down and shot into the woods, only to scare him off, away from the house.     He stayed away till later in the evening around 11 or 12 but only stayed around the pasture for awhile.  He has made his appearance known now and visits every couple of nights, but doesn't come up to the house anymore, and as the vegetation grows thicker may not be seen again till fall.  There are always things that happen to make life different each spring, and I am never fully  prepared for them.

So now, just like my Blue sentinel in the rock garden, I must keep a vigil on the land, my animals, and my state of mind.  Not an easy task at this stage of the game, however, ......I think its going to be a fascinating year this time......waiting for that next curve, will it be uphill, or speeding down the slope......stay tuned.....cause who knows when I will write another episode again.

Yes, the bear came back last night, and left this mark of his presence.....for all his work, he found nothing, how disappointing that must have been.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The spinning

Lynn's Bear

August is nearing the end, it's been a quiet and dry month compared to the months before, but some rainstorms have ventured in. I watched the other day as the Mother Nature drew ropes of clouds across the sky from the North to the south, while the sun which was beginnning to set in the west, surveying all the action. Her fingers deftly pulled the grayish white clouds into her wheel....which looked like wool roving, as they gently glided past my window. The golden glow from the setting sun filtered down upon the tree tops like glistening flecks of gold dust, as if she were shaking out all the excess color out of the sky to spin the ever darkening clouds in the South. The sun refused to hide ….even tho the fabric of dark gray material began to creep across the sky from her spinning wheel and the wind from the wheel picked up speed... threatening to blow all the gold dust deep into the woods. The weeds underneath the sitting bench out in the lawn began to play tag….your it…..no your it…as they nodded to the glistening rain drops starting to fall. Eventually the sun lost its battle and gave in to the beckoning call of the evening, but not even the moon came out to play that night, as the rain continued to fall and marinate the earth once again with the brine of the wondering storm.

Upon going to feed the animals in the early morning, Avi stood at guard looking strangely at something in the tall grasses that border the paddock fence. This was an unusual stance as usually she tackles anything that moves….so I hurried on to see what the fascination in the grass was. There…, caught in some tall grasses was a beautiful tiny golden-brown bat… each time Avi nudged it … it emitted a strange cry that made her jump back and stare. We had a powerful wind storm the night before, so it must have been blown off course and became entangled in the fence and falling to the ground. Gently picking up the drenched small creature, I carried it across to the gate and left it outside the predator area to recover. It laid there on the glistening rain drop grass, quiet, not moving a muscle checking out the territory in case another wet nose would come thunderig down.  I continued on with the chores and upon checking later, it was gone… dried by the sun and had flown onward to his night residence to wait until the darkness again gave its permission to sail among the stars..

The Homestead suffered some losses this month, as one of the creatures of the night crept in through the open chicken door to find a tasty meal or two. The female goose startled at its appearance flew straight thru the screen on the door leading into the yard, followed by two of the hens, as the gander tried desperately to defend his flock. But it was useless, as my Avi awakened by the hostile action going on in the chicken coop, flew outside to find the goose in her territory and lo and behold a couple of chickens too, and proceeded to make quick work of the invaders on HER lawn. By this time however, the two big whites were bounding  out to the coop, and whatever entered in that night made off with another chicken, leaving a trail unknown and only a telltale scent as to what or who the invader was. The big gander is now alone, as his mate of many years is gone, and he travels the paddock with his lonesome call….. throughout the day in hopes that his pal will reappear and had only gone for a walk in the pasture.

The mysterious invader had visited before, this time chasing the alpacas out to the pasture, leaving them huddling in the far corner, unwilling to come back to their shed. It was late into the night when the barking dogs awoke me again, only this time the bark was different, so taking my trusty flashlight and trotted out in silky night air… my bare feet leaving a trail in the dewy grass……to see just what the disturbance was. The alpacas were nowhere to be seen, including the goat. The dogs had their noses up against the fence line, their loud noisy , waling bays carrying across the ravines, echoing against the tree and sending bats carrening  even faster in the night air. Scurrying across the yard, I got into the truck and turned on the headlights as I directed my attention across the fields, the tree lines and the pasture. The guys were there in the far left corner, not moving, not making a sound, looking toward the west hill tree lines, intent on what was stationed out there. As I circled the pasture, nothing was to be seen, the fields were empty, and the quiet sounds chilling. Eventually the guys came back to shed, early in the morning hours… when all effects of the visitor had left the air and the pasture. The stranger was gone, at least for this particular night, leaving no trace in its retreating path……. fading into velvet darkness of the night safely…… giving no notice of its departure.

The domestic apples hang ripe on the trees in the front yard and must be picked in the coming week….the giant wild crab apple trees are dropping their bounty and carpeting the ground below…., the garden has given up most of its produce, and I have left it to the weeds for another year. It has been so wet, that there is moss growing among the onions which must be pulled and dried. Sweet corn is in the freezer, herbs have been dried, some crops faltered and faded back into the soil, while others maintained their dignity and grew to their potential. The strawberries that had been planted in spring are reloading and springing forth with huge red fruit delighting not only me but the birds as well. Purple bunches of grapes hanging heavy on the vines covering the trellises will be picked; the Indian corn gathered in the month of September, jams put up in the pantry, corn stalks pulled up, to make way for the tiller later in maybe October. I have given up trying to keep the grass cut, with the heat and humidity, having won its battle to grow thick and tall while I wait for the frost to take it out of its …..Or maybe my....... Misery.

Old Fashion Tiger Lillies
Meanwhile there are plums on the counter to be processed and they say we are having a heat wave coming in for a few days. It has been the longest short summer in many years… as Mother Nature has spun and knitted a strange type of season leaving me in awe of what has been and what is still to come…..and looking forward to the colors of the oaks, and the lonely call of the winter winds……WOW …did I really say that……after last winter…..Yes, the spinning of tales.......... never stops!.


Thursday, July 28, 2011



If one is to believe in a bit of science fiction and dwell on the dark secrets of the universe, it is easy to comprehend what happened in the last eight months. The loss of two younger siblings to Cancer, and grueling long winter, the very late spring, plus many other factors put this gal in another time and place. Some how things were getting done as usual, but it was like a robot had taken over my senses, and proceeded to do as programed without thought as to what, why and how come. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and then suddenly one day I went out in the garden and said……..how and when did this all get done. The sweet corn is tasseling, the tomatoes are ripening, the herbs are ready to pick and dry, and I stood there in a moment of amazement, realizing that somewhere, in another time zone quite similar to this one, my outer self-took over the chores, and the inner self sought sanctum…in a place most people care not to go. The two worlds were battling each other, one not giving a damn and the other pushing to reach the place above the clouds to breathe. Everything was the same, yet profoundly different…..struggling to gain control……while I just sat on the outside looking in. Two worlds had separated, two time zones, with no direction in sight……...until now. The mind indeed is a strange animal, taking its own sweet time to awake and smell the roses…….!

Speaking of roses, a bush that was given to me by my son-in-laws mother, has finally bloomed this year….it was planted about eight years ago, and grew up the trellis, with nary a bloom. Then a few weeks ago, a bit of pink caught my attention and there in the middle of the vines, was a bouquet of small, tiny pink roses….catching the rays of the sun, and the drops of the dew. ….. The other roses that were planted last year, like the “Knock out” specimens are blooming,… but sadly I lost my yellow rose bush to the cold fingers of ole man winter. The colors of the leaves on the oaks and poplars this year are filled with a strong sense of being… as they are robust hues of greens, alternating with the darks and lites, like no other. Mother Nature grew tired of her blanket of snow, and brought on the seasons with a clear cut idea of summer and what it was meant to be. There are also black eyed Susan’s bobbing and talking with the clouds on the hillside coming up the drive. A willow sways and dances with the wind near the culvert, while the young fawns are playing tag in some of the fallen trees downed by the winter’s snows.

We have a new resident this year, for the first time in a few years….he walks with dignity and a supreme sense of confidence across the hayfield, toward the woodline, with no fear of the dogs barking, or a human watching. The beautiful black fur catches the last rays of the setting sun, as he slowly makes his way thru the tall grasses in the woodline, silently fading into the dark woods, leaving only his scent behind for the dogs to play with. I have seen this black bear many times so far this summer, crossing the driveway about 50 yards from the house, crossing the road down a ways, plus his relatives sitting in empty fields or crossing the road on the way to Medford, to pick up Tim from work. I think I shall name this year…..The Year of the Bear…….I can always tell when he is around , as the alpacas will not go into the pasture and stay close to the sheds, waiting for the moment he travels to another destination, in search of his destiny.

The usual residents are back, the coyotes still singing their mournful chorus at nite, and a family of beautiful skunks….if you keep your distance..reside at the bottom of the hill. We have seen black mink, raccoons, fox and more deer than in the last few years. All foraging at the homestead this year…however…. they have been taking advantage of the domestic dwellers here and wiped out Lynn’s chicks and chickens one sultry, very hot Sunday afternoon and evening. Apparently they became bored with the prospects of the woods, and decided to stir up some excitement, since the chickens were not taken for food, but left lifeless in the pen.

The rains, high humidity and heat have kept the lawn tall, and the weeds in the garden on a rampage. We broke records this winter with our snowfalls, and now are doing the same with the rain and high temps. However the rock garden is splendid, with all the colors abound and the lilies are tall reaching for the hummers who are patiently waiting for them to open and look toward the sky. A wren couple settled in the gourd hanging under the eve…and has rewarded us with hours of singing from the time the sun kisses the treetops, till it settles down in the west and snuggles in for the night. Barn swallows moved in next door, in another gourd, making Tim happy that they didn’t take up space in the garage again, and litter ….however as time went on, and the garage door stayed open, another party moved in…so there is still…..”Litter” in the garage to match the disarray of materials stored there.

Well, the rhubarb is in the freezer, waiting to be made in to jam…the cherries have been picked …for the first time this year…..awaiting to be made in to Tim’s favorite, cherry pies….6 ice cream pails full….next year I am getting a cherry stoner…….my food drier is humming with basil leaves drying, the alpacas have been sheared and frolic in the rain, life and time synchronized like a fine orchestra in concert goes on, leaving no one behind. The long nights have concluded, and happiness of the sunshine smiling between the raindrops has returned. The fragile time warps have become one for now and the clouds are erasing the moments of abandonment leaving a wild field of contentment for all to embrace.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

May Showers

The advent of May showers leaves me antsy. Due to the late spring, although the garden has been worked up, I have not been able to get in and plant. The clay soil holds water and if one goes in too early we end up with golf sized hard mud balls, which are really a pain to work around. According to my records for the last eight years of residing up here In the North Woods, I am not too late, and the things in the greenhouse will be ready to put in…however My body may not be able to handle the influx of all the bending, stooping, pulling, digging that is required of doing such a chore in minute time required before the heat hits. This getting older bit sucks…but if the truth be known….. it may be the extra weight that sucks more, not the age that is slowing me down. Sigh…never ending battle one way or another.

The orioles have been crowding the make shift hangers that hold sweet orange slices under the sunflower feeder. Their splendid orange and black suit coats flash with the sunlight, and the melodious singing in the early morning is an alarm clock not to be ignored as they sway on the liquid feeder hanging outside the kitchen window. The Rose Breasted Grosbeaks argue for room at the sunflower feeder, the males tidy in their black and white suites and red ties, constantly singing for their mates who even in their brown sultry dresses are a vision to watch. The Finches have changed their costume from dull winter brown to bright startling yellow and flit from sprig to sprig on the birches and poplar trees, adding to the chorus of spring, catching the raindrops to glisten on their wing tips. A silent flash of blue and the whisper of a Blue Bunting slashes the air as he steals a seed here and there, from under the beaks of the Grosbeaks. Not to be outdone by this spring spectacle at the sunflower tables….. are the woodpeckers, hanging from the suet feeders, with the Red headed woodpecker peering over the side, threatening the smaller Hairy and Downy woodpeckers as if to say ..The King has arrived….please make way…..so they make a swift retreat to the nearby oaks….sailing up and down the tree trunks like the swift running sap that is bringing the leaves into full dress while the almighty red head savors the small morsels of homemade suet.

Down on the ground another scenario is taking place….as the common Red Polls silently drift down to catch the falling black seeds, along with dozens of White Crowned sparrows, Chipping Sparrows and field sparrows partake in the bounty that the greedy birds above have let fall to the earth. Nothing goes to waste these days, as the frisky chipmunks pack their cheeks full with delicacies they have found hidden in the long strands of unmowed grass, or the gray, black and red squirrels have carelessly left behind.

Somewhere, way high in the front yard tree a treble of notes float and tango across the roof and then rebound with flirty fun as a Bobolink has flown in from the green swaying grass fields, to make sure he too could be heard, stopping to listen as his mate answered him from a sheltered nest in the woodline, …..Soon they will be feeding on the thousands of dandelion seeds from the fluffy yellow blossom heads bobbing and bowing under the gentle southwest winds. The Red Winged Blackbirds call and dance along the garden fence while the Barn swallows sweep and dive to catch the insects that would dare to come out to see the ruckus. Suddenly there is a swift dart and dash….and the hummers are heading for the nearest blossom, to find the insects hidden there, or the sugar water in the feeder just awaiting their return. Down….., deep in the ravines echo the calls of the Sand Hill Cranes, …somewhere in the thick undergrowth the partridge are drumming…… calling for their respected companions….and soon in the evening you can hear the Loons adding their own creative calls with the croaking of the spring frogs. These are the masterful chorus sounds of spring that cannot be heard in the opera halls of the city…..and cost not a penny; continuing on through the day, ending with the lonely closing ceremony of the hooting of the owls in late evening as the sun has set, bringing down the curtain of shadows.

In this splendid rendition of the Chorus of the Homestead, one must sit back and take time to relish the music of the woods, now minus the frosted white snow, and full of the life that continues to emerge with each plump cherry blossom, or shiny rain drop frosted leaf. The clouds are parting, the rays shinning down to warm the wet ground, Mother Nature has let her children out to reclaim the skies, and revamp the earth. My garden will get planted, the grasses will grow, and the weeds replenish , all is well on the homestead as it should be….new life will soon be appearing, and another saga is about to begin. It is my good fortune to be able to witness all, and……. sit and…… watch…..and listen….and ….enjoy as everything eventually takes care of itself and worry is for naught..

Friday, May 13, 2011

The odysseys of April

Somewhere back in the month of January, I said it was the worst month….I was wrong there played another month to test my sanity………I say this because the snow continued, day after day with no sign of amnesty. It was like Mother Nature was disciplining her children of spring and not allowing them to come out to play. There was no blue sky with fluffy white clouds…instead; she used the dark heavy gray clouds to corral them into a secret area with no escape. She called upon the bitter cold winds of the north to guard the gentle spring breezes with the frost crystals sealing in their fate….but allowed the snowflakes to continue to fall, sinking the rest of the world into utter melancholy. In my special dogmatic verdicts there was only one word to describe it all…….IT SUCKS!

To add to this bitter dissolution, my husband was laid off his Job as of April 1. The company had changed insurance companies, and due to an accident two years before, they would not cover him…, his only accident in 36 years of driving. They laid off another driver, and 15 employees in the plant. Unemployment papers filed, and many, many resumes were sent out, and the weeks continued to slowly slip through our fingers…we couldn’t work outside, the weather was bad, so his school work dominated the long hours of the longer daylight hours of SNOW. I did however start the plants, in the house at first in the kitchen window, and then as the days grew slightly warmer transferred them to the green house and got the heater warming them at night even tho I knew the electrical bill would skyrocket …there was no choice. Growing slowly, they are doing just fine, and sometimes now in the month of May, the sun actually shines, and spring does seem to open the door a couple times a week.

However, the Month of April, was shining for the women in my family, you see I have three sisters, didn’t grow up with them, since I left home early, but have kept in touch……and as sisters go, we agree to disagree at times, have led entirely different lives, but when the chips are down, the blood runs hot. So, I have to" honour" them this month, as they have all captured great moments in their time of life……No.1 is baby sister Denise…..she has finally acquired that educationary degree that sets her above all the rest….I would tell you what it is, but quite frankly it is so long I can’t remember it, or pronounce it, but it puts her first in her choice of medical worlds……Yeah! Then next comes middle sister, Rose, or Rosie as I always call her……she has landed a job after being out of work for almost two years…..and it is right where she wanted to be, a single mother raising her beautiful daughter, she has completed her schooling, hit the rough years, and now the reward….a job that is perfect for her……last but not least comes Ann Marie, the lady who was always ultimately groomed, and now holds the title of having the most stitches and staples in the world, but is out of the American Cancer hospital in Zion, at home…ready to tackle the next steps of recovery……..being the luckiest person in the world who doesn’t have to worry how her hair looks when she gets up in the morning….that would be my dream….I can’t get mine short enough…UG….hate that woman in the mirror with porcupine looking gray hair that just won’t calm down. These are very strong, wonderful women of my family that I am proud to know…., they have met the fate of their destinies, and have won…..now I just have to figure out what mine is…..but then it never was a priority with me……I just wander on behind all the little animals…..

Our septic tank sprung a leak….now if that isn’t a S_______ turn of events, nothing is…..so on the one warm day of last week, we had the shovels out, and dug out the very wet clay earth down a couple of feet to find that the top central round piece had lost part of its seal, and we have to reseal it. But of course now we have to wait for the weather to be a certain temperature to spread the sealer around the cement…..and hope the one who is painting it on doesn’t fall in…..ya know that did happen to someone around Eau Claire a couple of years back…..the outcome was not the best…..I will not go into details…..but now I know how that can happen. We are also replacing some of  the fence around the barn yard, as the old one was one we recovered from my brothers Ostrich pen about 8 years back, and is in sore condition…..you see the goat stands there and sticks her tongue out at the dogs, and when they come to the fence she butts …or tries to butt them, eventually leaving gaping holes in the fence which I have tried to cover with various screening stuff….and then Avi decides to dig under the fence to get at whatever delicacy she thinks is on the other side leaving more holes in the ground and the fence….or try to climb over the top for reasons I cannot understand. Sometimes she would make holes in the fence just to entice the chickens to come out on the other side, so she could put them out of their so called misery……so with Tim home we are putting up another 100 feet of 8 foot high of 2x4 squares of welded wire, fence, and straightening out all the fence posts that the goats butted over the years. And the garden plots are cleaned out, and ready to till, along with all the fruit trees, and roses, pruned for another year of beauty. If the rain would stop for a while, and the sun come out for more than 2 days we could till the garden…but…no hurry, the plants in the green house are still young….and let’s face it SPRING is very late.

May has brought good news, Tim has a job…driving for a trucking company in Medford…….70 miles away….yes a long ways away, but he will be gone for 5-7 days, running down south carrying anything from paper products to pizzas. The raises are good, the tractors are new…and looks like the gas prices may drop…so we have our favorite garage owner looking for a vehicle for me so Tim can take the truck to work. For now however, I will have to drive him to work and pick him up…..140 miles round trip …UG…

…I understand that they have a few drivers that also drive along way, Rice Lake, Bruce and… Yes even…. Iron Mountain, Michigan……..but that’s the way it is out here….gain a little, give a lot….that’s homesteading in the north…..some days I would like to shove it…but other days…I know it’s where we belong. If only that sun would shine a few more days………..yup……just never satisfied…following all the little animals,…….ya know the trail….


Monday, April 4, 2011

The path of the years

Happy Birthday Lisa

Today is April 2, 2011, and our 25th wedding anniversary, and is passing just like any other day here on the homestead, a lazy Saturday, with the sun shining, and the snow melting a bit more, leaving only four foot snow banks now, instead of eight foot. We were married secretly at the” Little Brown Church in the Dale”, in Nashua, Iowa in a simple ceremony with the pastors wife as a witness. It is simply amazing to think of all the memories that are now gathering dust on the bookshelves of our lives, some have gone up in smoke, some are still smoking, and others have settled down into majestic moments of laughter and silence. With each milestone that has passed, another age line has evolved, another truth learned, another memento to be filed onto the bookshelf and hopefully many more to be discovered. Regardless of how settled we seem to be, nothing can be taken for granted anymore, and nothing will be the same as it once was. I have learned that nothing is stable or permanent anymore and the curves in the roads ahead are sharper, the hills are steeper, and the potholes deeper. Is this the life I thought would be, or did I even think of what life would be when I was 25 years younger? Too busy, too little time, too many important priorities, left very little room for dreaming of what lie ahead in the future, or where the road would lead. Now, we are still traveling, not running anymore, but walking along the center of the road  ... with new memories to be filed,… peering around the corners, rather than careening on two wheels at 75 miles an hour to get to the next plateau, there is no reason for speed now, the years are coming on fast enough for my fancy, and my foot is off the gas pedal.

Speaking of gas pedals, the little chevy truck we now own, is definitely slowing my logic down to a crawl….being very short….and very FLUFFY, I cannot reach the pedal unless I am setting on top of the steering wheel, which leaves creases across my bellybutton, and my chin on the speedometer. My nose rubs the windshield, and lord knows what has happened to the seatbelt. The seat is as far as it can go forward, and still my toes just barely touch the gas pedal. Never have I had such a problem with any vehicle that we have owned, and who ever owned it before left a sinkhole in the seat, so unless I can find a pillow to fit in it, I have to sit on the side of the seat so as not to be lost in the calamities of the instruments that tell me what speed I am traveling, and how much gas is left in the tank. From the outside it looks like a porpoise is trying to see between the steering wheel spokes …..gasping for air as I struggle to brake and complete whatever journey I have set out to conquer. All I gotta say is thank heavens for Cruise control, and four wheel drive buttons,….. If I had to get out and set the wheels, I would still be stuck in all the snowbanks that accumulated these last few months. Then there is no running board like all our other trucks had, and to get into this sardine can, is a performance that can only be matched by the best acrobatic moves around. Getting out matches the slithering of a snake out of the bull pen….finally hitting concrete surfaces. This was not my idea of transportation, but in these times, with the high gas prices, it has one very good point…it has good gas mileage…so …have to deal with it.

Early last week, before the last snowstorm hit, the geese were out in the pasture, following the alpacas out to some of the bare ground that finally surfaced. When it started snowing lightly however, the alpacas came in to the shed, while the geese comfortably settled into the tall grasses pulling at some tasty strands of weeds still left standing……Suddenly they melted flat into the ground, ..and a slow flying shadow circled around between the tree lines. It came from very high in the sky, and was sensed by them before I could even see what the problem was. As it slowly circled and descended toward the ground, they made a wild dash for the coop. My Toulouse geese are heavier than most geese, and it was surprising to see how fast they could travel, with their huge wings catching the air as they almost flew at ground level...... Suddenly I saw the problem; a huge, beautiful adult eagle had spotted them while on a hunting mission from high above, ...circling quickly and quietly looking for his prey. He landed in one of the tall oaks across the field alongside the pasture, and perched on one of the higher leafless limbs, ....watching,..... waiting……..I am not sure who would have won this battle, for the gander is very protective of his mate, ...even  hissing when I come near the nest to gather the chicken eggs every evening, ......this time the eagle lost the gamble, as the geese went in for the night, never to return that day, and the snow kept falling. He sat there for about an hour, preening his graceful feathers, always on the watch for the mouse, or inattentive squirrel, going after that last acorn on the ground. Then, with a flick of his wings, and one last long look, he took to the clouds, leaving the pasture free again.

Boredom has brought back an old hobby that I did as a child when my grandmother decided I needed to learn more then how to clean house....., and now am back at it again, crocheting up some of the yarn that has been sitting here for ages. At first I started to knit, but then a picture from one of th knitting forums  caught my eye, and walla!.......it was a perfect birthday gift for my eldest, whose birthday was arriving fast. The picture at the top of this page shows the color a lot darker , actually it is soft ecrue, or lite ivory. As you can see in the pictures, I actually finished the afghan in a few weeks, and am now working on Easter objects, that resemble the sugar craft learned when I was in the business of decorating cakes. The picture shown here  will be a surprise for the grandkids…These are things I used to make when I had my Cake Decorating business, made of sugar then, crumpling with time..now stiffened crochet thread hold spring fancies and maybe a candy or two.......but these will last much longer,.... I know they don’t read this, so it will be new to them..........but then  one never really knows  just what  lies around the corner....., now do we?