Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Birdhouse Gourds

Preparation always helps me fight off cabin fever..... Preparation? Spring preparation of course!

The children and I decided to work on our bird house gourds. We grew the gourds ourselves two gardens ago. At the end of their growing season they were pitched into the rafters of our barn for drying.
                                                    (Recycled picture)

We have used the gourds over the last few seasons for various art projects, but this time they were turned into something of practical purposes....

The plan was simple, using a gourd no smaller than a 8 inch diameter, drill an entry  hole,  drill seep holes in the bottom, and two holes in the neck for hanging. 

But first they had to be washed and scraped. I used a metal swatch to get the layer of mold off.
                                            (Recycle picture)

After they dried the holes were drilled and cut. We cleaned them out, collecting the seeds for use in the spring.

 Then we painted them white.

Aubs eventually painted most of himself as well... good thing he wore his work hat...

Hopefully in the spring we will have a string of inhabited bird houses across our garden. 

- Remember that when you invite the birds into eat the bugs from your garden you should not use pesticides. 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

In the Land of Milk and Honey

The barn yard is quiet. All the animals are snuggled warmly in their bedding. Milo is probably curled up in the hay manger. The children are fast asleep as the winter snow falls from the night sky. Its a beautiful night.

I am sitting here quietly by the warm fire. The flickers from the flames cast faint shadows on the walls. Their dance makes my eyes heavy and ready for sleep. I had wished this evening to dream, day dream of the things to come and reflect on years gone by. But the flames of the fire are lulling my eyes to heavily drift. It seems as though I may have to dream a dream and keep the day dreams for tomorrow. We will see how long it takes before the winter warmth sends me to my bed...

Christmas is gone. The planning that went into the holidays have finally came to head and soon will be completely passed. The decorations will be dismantled and the holiday rush will now dwindle as we all begin to hibernate into our cozy homes.

 Now to come are the days of dreaming of gardens and fences, kids, chicks and bee hives, tractor parts and compost bins, gravel driveways and blueprints. Now that the holidays have passed its time to sit by the fire sift through seed catalogs and dream of warm summer days.

I have to laugh at myself a little. Its funny how my perspective changes through the long winter months. This past Aug. I was overwhelmed and lost over our gardening failure. I said next year we will go smaller.... The winter months heals the seasons loss and prepares a new soil, renewing the spirit for further growth. O yes, this year the garden will grow! It will be bigger and better than ever!

I can hear the sounds now. The bees will buzz out of their hive across the herb garden. The sun will shoot down wistful rays of light. A light breeze will blow and the smell of bee balm and basil will tickle my nose. Milo will leave little paw prints in the soil as he chases the strings I am using to tie my last tomato. Our lonesome rooster will crow out a loud song reminding me to throw him some corn. The girls will stand at the fence as Jasmine calls out for her turn on the milk stand.

The evening sky will slowly creep down on us as we finish that final row. The children still happily playing. Between the rows of corn, they will run. The warm silky dirt will feel like heaven between their toes.

The warm summer nights we will still sit by the fire. Under the pavilion the chimenea will blaze while we drink mint tea. The dogs will sprawl out at our feet. Heavy my eyes will get as I watch the summer flames prance. I will wish to day dream about the things to come but my weary muscle will go limp as the flames set weights on my lids... The Whippoorwill will call out to me as the light breeze gives my hammock swing a gentle rock and fast asleep in the land of milk and honey I will walk.....

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Seeds of Negativity

My Christmas gift to all of you is that I didn't publish the post the I wrote this morning.

Merry Christmas.

Seriously, it was a post filled with all the things that are wrong unjust and plain annoying in this world. Maybe I am crumbling under the holiday pressure? Maybe its the economic pressure. Maybe its both? Either way the negativity is doing a number on my impressionable spirit... (I can only imagine how my children feel)

So this morning in a fit of frustration and mild rage I wrote out a blog post filled with viral word vomit. Yeah, getting those feelings out were good for me once I said my peace I took a deep breath and stepped outside for a few minutes.... but  I am tired a paying the bad feelings forward. Who needs those kind of feelings the day before Christmas?

Luckily I left the post in my editing box, while I mauled over my feelings. I concluded that the world isn't fair and all the obsessing in the world isn't going to change it. Change starts within.

Lee and I have been surrounded by a lot of negativity lately. Although it is nice that people trust us enough to confide in us and that the government has enough faith that the middle class will persevere through all this economic crap, our spirits are getting over taken by the weeds of negativity. The only way to free ourselves is to pluck out the weeds that are trying to challenge our growth.

I already started making out my new years resolutions and let me tell you I had a whopper of a list.... but unfortunately this year I'm not going to be able to get to em'... My goal of dropping 15lbs is going to have to wait until next year.

 This year I am cleaning out the shed. Losing the baggage. Mending the chip on my shoulder... Its growing time baby! Weeding out the seeds of negativity is going to take all of my effort and focus.  My first plan action will take place this evening over a nice glass of wine and spending time with the Steve Miller Band, Credence, and my pals Three Dog Night. Yeah their company always gets the feel good feelings flowing. Then first thing after holidays I am getting bumper stickers made that says "Feel burdened, frustrated, angry, abandon, neglected? Family Problems? Having trouble paying your bills? Upset over the economic crisis?  Please feel free to dial a prayer... Leigh has checked out for the year."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Strange World

Last evening we had a very light drizzle coming down from the heavy gray clouds but the air was comfortable. The light  misty rain reminded me of ocean spray. My walk down to the barn rehydrated my skin with out drowning me... it was an even balance... nature in its perfection... soothing and calm.... better than any day at the spa. (not that I have ever been to a spa)

Oddly a December drizzle has never felt more comfortable. I really enjoyed my evening chores.There was this nice soothing feel to the air... it made me long for a hammock. Yes, it felt so good outside that I would have laid down and slept with the misty drizzle and all.

After the chores, I sat down on the bench outside the barn. Milo walked over to me and jumped up on my lap. We sat underneath the shed roof and listened to the sounds. Milo's low purrs hummed a gentle lullaby.

As we sat there, I could hear a flock of geese flying in the distance. "I have never heard geese out this late", I thought. But on the other hand, its not like I get to just sit and listen to sounds very often either.

 I could hear them flying through the deep gray clouds above me. "Where are they going", I wondered? I listened to them for so long that I had started to wonder if they were flying in circles... Were they confused?
I listened longer. The sound was faint but consistent.... Maybe its me, Maybe the geese are in my head and I am bonkers?

I listened a little longer. Finally the honking geese quietly trickled away. I could hear something different. Something was walking through the woods at the bottom of the hill.... "What is it", I wondered? "Where is it going"? The leaves shuffled with each step. Apparently I am not the only one who enjoys being out in this type of weather.

Milo and I sat there quietly taking in the sounds and feel in the air until the once gray sky had turned to black.

 The sounds of the neighbors car door awoke my thoughts reminding me that it was time to go. I needed to head back to the house.

As I walked passed the garden, I heard a final "nay" from the goat stall... Once I made that last curve around the fence, I was greeted by the loud sound of a motorcycle billowing down the road. It startled me, as if I had just had ice water poured over my head while taking a nice hot shower. And it was then that I thought...........

 How strange it is too walk among two worlds at once and even stranger it is to be torn between the two....

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Catching a beat down and some colorful words...

This evening was slightly warmer than our last few evenings due to the sun finally gracing us with her presence. Yet I still decided to throw on my bib overalls anyways. I may as well be comfortable if I am going to be at the barn for any amount of time this evening.

 I really wanted to check Jasmine over again. Her bawling is driving me nuts.... sometimes I can hear her crying when I am not even at home! Her nays have gotten to my brain like a terrible song stuck on repeat in the memory!

I bundled up good and made my way down to the barn. The walk in the cool evening air did my spirit a lot of good. As I met the far corner of the fence Jasmine and Jessica ran happily in my direction.

"Good evening girls", I cheerfully said.
"And Miss Jasmine, what seems to be the problem with you dear?"
Jasmine ignored my small talk and walked a few feet in front me batting her tail around and occasionally crying out.

I figured I would use this opportunity to sneak a peek and see if we have any type of heat indications in the female regions....

Here I was walking along sort of minding my own business. Ok, I wasnt minding my own business really. I was trying to keep up with Jasmin with out spooking her and look towards my left trying to see if there was any "activity" under her tail and then WAM! What the!?!?!?! A sweet gum tree jumped out of NO WHERE! O yeah that'll teach ya!

Anyways, after I regained consciousness (just kidding), but I did have to scrap together my dignity,  I managed to really check Jasmine.... and yep... she is in heat. I mean I hope thats what that was!

So this evening I started emailing people about trying to obtain stud service. I really really wish we had a buck of our own because trying to find someone on the spur of the moment isn't very much fun.O which reminds me, I have learned a new Dairy goat Lesson that I would like to share with all of you.... take note of these little trial and error lessons and learn from my mistakes. These are the little things that they don't teach in the "how to books".

Lesson In obtaining stud service for your Does:
While seeking out stud service for your doe's you will find that very few people will want to offer stud service. They are much more inclined to try to sell you buckling (baby boy goat)!  Remember, no matter how frustrating it gets during your mass emailing expeditions.... DO NOT title your email subject line with,  "AT THE MOMENT ALL I NEED IS STUD SERVICE". Your emails may not get opened... or you may just get some very colorful responses....

All the Best,

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Longing for Male Companionship....... ?

This is the third day in a row that Jasmine has bawled none stop. She stands on top of her rock and cries and cries and cries. What on earth is her malfunction!? She cries more now than when she first arrived here almost a year ago.

I think it is even getting on Jessica's nerves. Jessica has put distance between her and Jasmine. Before the girls would be inseparable in the pasture. So inseparable,  that we have often wondered if they were sharing the same blade of grass! Now Jessica (the kid sister) will even go in the barn all by herself, leaving  Jasmine out in the pasture to cry.

 I have been kind of concerned. At first I thought it was because of the cold spell. My goats do not like extreme temperatures but Jessica the sensitive one, hasn't been crying like that!  Then I thought maybe she had hurt herself. After I gave her a check up, I decided that there wasn't anything physically wrong.  What a mystery this is!

But still my poor little goat longingly looks off to the distance and cries out.... Is she crying out for a beau!? Does she dream of the day of a handsome buck coming to whisk her off her hooves?

I haven't noticed any tail flapping but it does make me wonder...

What do you think? Does this look like the face of a doe pining for a lover???

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Never a fair weather friend

This evening while walking down to the barn to do the evening chores I looked up to see Jasmine and Jessica step out of the barn running towards me. Their tails were down and their fur was bushy as they shivered and cried out to me. Milo reluctantly took slow painful steps through the snow in my direction.... at that moment it dawns on me why is it that I love these guys so much....

Wind, rain, snow, cold; no matter the weather, they are still always willing to meet me half way....

Sunday, December 12, 2010

We shall meet again.

"I'm just butter! Butter I tell ya!!!! 

Easily slice me open with your savage nature.... Aye but then turn around and melt my heart with those beady brown eyes!!!

 BUTTER!!!! I'm butter, I tell ya!!!"

If you have been following the blog you know that I have been obsessing over my mystery predator.... and when I say obsessing I'm not exaggerating! I Heart  Mysteries!

If you need to be caught up to speed read Adventures in Tracking.

After consulting a few of my tracker pals, I was told to sweep the site (under the shed roof of our barn) and then place the bait in the center. Clearing the site should give me a better imprint of the tracks. I also left my live trap baited. 

This morning I woke to a beautiful morning. It was 47 degrees here, with beautiful clear skies. I walked slowly down to the barn enjoying my morning stroll. 

Last evening was the third night of baiting the live trap. I came up empty each time.  So I really wasn't expecting anything.... O but there was a different feel in the air today! Something was going to be very different!

And to my surprise!!!!!

 "Well, well, well, what do we have here", I said with great joy.

"So you have been the one causing my barn yard to stir".

"Your the one that ate my beloved Jeeves and Belvedere"....

Then this friendly Virginia Opossum looked up at me, with those little marble eyes, and cute fuzzy smoke colored furry face, and would ya just look at that adorable dirty pink little nose!?!?! and 

"O crapOla, Im melting..........................  I'm Just butter"!

I didn't have my camera on me and after all the hoopla and such, how could I catch something and then not share it with all of you!?!?!?!? So I had to walk back up to the house. 

I knew that once I returned  to the house that Lee would quiz me about the uncontrollable smug grin across my face. (If I could have quit smiling I would have.)

 O yes, he knows me very well! He would know that I have caught something in my trap! 

 I wondered, " O NO! What shall I do"!?

Lee doesn't enjoy killing things. He hunts but its not something that he obsessively enjoys.... but in this circumstance.... Lee was Not going to be butter. 

Well in the end, sure I had to bat my eye lashes and talk in my real sweet southern draw... and I did listen to his half hearted stern voice say, "WE ARE NOT RAISING ANIMALS TO FEED TO THE WILDLIFE", but see the thing about Lee is well... when it comes to me, he IS butter!

I know that I am just prolonging the inevitable. I can think of a million reasons why I couldn't. Why I didn't.... To name a few; I think the opossum must be my animal spirit. I have said it a million times over, "they just have a soft spot in my heart that other furry creatures don't have".... They are fascinating creatures to me. North Americas only Marsupial!

Can you blame an animal for surviving... for eating??? I mean, I like chicken too!!!!! I eat it all the time! 

I'm grasping at straws here I know... and the thing about straws, is that eventually someone draws the short one...

 until another day.....

        BUT  until another day....

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Adventures in tracking

When the whispers are heard upon the once so deaf ears....

Adventures in Tracking...

We had five free range Roosters last week. All but one were taken in the night. The first to meet the dim fate was one of the youngest. At night he perched low on a bench, making him an easy target. I found his remains in the barn, only the breast missing. It was almost as if he was just killed for sport. I wondered if Milo the barn cat had anything to do with it. Two days later the next was taken. I say this shamefully but neither of the first were terribly missed like the following two.

There was a break in the killing spree, almost a week. Then it picked up again. Our pet Roo Jeeves being the next. We were all sadden by the loss of our beloved Jeeves. We tried to catch the remaining two but could only catch one. The elusive Belvedere met his fate the following night.

The loss of my boys weighed in my subconscious mind. I dreamed I found Jeeves in the woods, injured but alive. The dreamed lingered in my mind. I decided to investigate... "just maybe", I had hoped.

Last night after I set my live trap, I had traced the path down the hillside but then the trail turned to the North side of the property. The cold evening air lingered on my face but as I found more evidence my adrenalin kept me warm. I followed the trail to a clearing in the fence. I was startled by the downed fence and cleared brush. I wondered, "am I dealing with an animal!?!?!"  The night sky was quickly falling on me and with my new startling evidence I decided that I had carried it  far enough. Quietly the moon illuminated my chilling walk back towards the house.

Today I bundled up my littlest one. "Were going to solve a mystery, Aubs" I announced. Aubs was excited to be apart of anything mysterious. I assumed he over heard my plans to go for a stroll as he grabbed his snow suit and began to rummage around for his missing fish net.... but then he announced, "Lets go squirrel hunting".
Kids often have a set of plans of their own.  I obliged his squirrel hunting tale and off we went... Aye BUT not before I distracted his attention from the search of the fishing net, or course.

 We made our way towards the barn. The slew of feathers scattered around the barnyard and field made it look as if there had been a massacre of greater numbers than 4. I found no feathers of the little ones but Belvedere and Jeeves were easily found. I suspect they put up the greatest fight.

My trap was empty... perhaps my predator wasn't a scavenger? Maybe he didn't like my selection of scrap bait (pizza and eggs)? We picked up the trail at the (missing) fence again. Upon daylight examination, deer had probably just knocked down the old loosely strung wire. There was a heavily trampled path through the open fence. Yes the wild critters use this path often.

I was about 3 feet on the opposite side of the north property line when I notice the blood splatter painted across the leaves. There were a few stray feathers (Belvedere's) but much blood. I followed the worn narrow path down into a barn on the abandoned piece of property. Inside the lean-to on the north side of the barn I found a narrow burrow/ tunnel? I had finally came to an end.... all roads lead to home??? Is this the culprits home?

Coincidence? Maybe.

I decided to pick up the other trail. Following the trail that Jeeves had left on the east side of property line. The colorful leaves laid heavy along the ground. Aubs walked carefully beside me. I was very surprised by how quiet he was. Was he actually listening to the wilderness too?

A creamy colored object caught me eye. I did a double take but realized that it wasn't a bone. I silently took note that it was just the skin of a rotten Delicata Squash.

"Momma, its a bone", Aubs delightfully squealed out his discovery. I squatted down next to him, picking up the dried squash skin "Its the same color as bone, but look" I opened the paper-like fold to reveal a large pocket of seeds. "Its an old skin from our Delicata squash". He shook his head, conveying that he understood and then picked up a few of the seeds and placed them in his pocket.

We continued to walk towards the south east corner of the property. There were a few feathers scattered along the the way. The marking indicated that it was Jeeves. I bent down to pick up a clump of feathers. The breeze shook the trees and a faint whiff of decaying flesh tickled my senses... I knew that I was close to discovering more of Jeeves. I traced my steps backwards to make sure nothing was a miss. I took a long deep breath and the scent was gone. I returned to the original spot, kneeling down, taking note of yet another burrow... but this one was old. The leaves had piled over top of it. In the center was a pile of scat. I moved the scat over, taking note of the still frosty leaves covering the entrance of the burrow. I thought perhaps that this must be of a familiar place to the culprit but definitely not his/her home. This place had been left abandon  long ago.

Once again the breeze blew by. I stood quietly listening. Then my focus was broken, Aubs! Where is he? I  quickly turned to my right where he stood eerily quiet. His vision gazed off into the thick forest ahead. He is still searching... listening.  The same child  that would cry to have to step foot outside was listening to the wind.... maybe he is going to be an outdoorsy kid after all???

I stood beside him, quietly taking in the moment. Waiting patiently for him to get his fill of the great outdoors.
His movement broke the serenity of the moment. We walked a few more feet and then the faint smell of carcass tickled the senses yet again. Then I noticed it... A bone. I squatted down examining the area. The bone had been cleaned. What ever took Jeeves wasted very little of him. I scanned the area further for more , but I found nothing. Maybe there was more there that laid hidden... or perhaps my sense of smell has indeed been heightened since kicking my nasty little habit of cigarettes.

None the less, I felt satisfied with my findings and Aubs informed me that he was finished "squirrel hunting". We headed back up to the house. When I reached the far corner of the goat pasture, I turned around glancing back at the woods line. The frothy clouds scattered over the forest as two vultures soared high above the tree tops.

At that moment... I came full circle. Jeeves, Belvedere, the predator, the tracks, the leaves, the burrow, the vultures, connecting with my son, learning, listening, following... It all connected. At that moment... we all become one, apart of something bigger better and amazing.

I don't know what in the hell I tracked today.... but yeah, I found something... something larger than myself.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Catch up.

What is the news at Come By Chance? Here's the catch up.... not to be confused with ketchup... or catsup for that matter... Yeah, I'm on the old cold medicine again can ya tell??? Sick to the bones again.

Last evening I sluggishly slipped on my boots and grabbed my jacket. I was just far too tired to muster the energy to slip on the old coveralls. I choose to freeze over the expenditure of energy. I slowly walked down to the first gate and struggled with the latch. I considered walking around the pasture and going through the barn door but o how those few kilometers looked like miles in the eyes of the sick and tired.

I finally made it through the gate and walked the girls to the barn. I took notice how fat Jasmine is looking these days. I think perhaps I need to cut their grain back as booth of them are looking a little pudgy. I finally had the girls snug in the stall and then proceeded to feed Milo his evening snack. The cat food overflowed as I stood there nodding off into a dream like state. Finally I finished the chores and sat down on the milk stand to catch my breath a bit. I looked over at the manger, to noticed that it had been comfortably slept in by something.... looks rather comfortable I thought... aye I can see me know "Leigh fast asleep in the Manger". I mustered the energy to head back towards the house but this time I took note in how long it took me to latch the gate. "Ill walk the miles instead".

I walked out of the door and noticed Belvedere perched quietly on the fence.  I decided that I ought to grab him and put him in so his fate wouldn't be sealed like Jeeves. Belvedere is slightly less friendly and much wilder than what Jeeves was. He saw me sneaking up on him and jumped down making a run for it in the night. "CRAP"! I thought. He is fast and aggressive, He will be fine tonight I thought and I walked back up to the house.

This morning I woke to find that Belvedere is indeed fast and ferocious but it just wasn't enough. Sis and I were saddened by this mornings findings. He put up quite a fight. Much more than the others. His feathers were found on the north south and east sides of the barn. He fought hard I believe. Sissy angrily reminded me that I should have let her catch him the morning before,

"I am the best chicken catcher around, ya know", She reminded me.
"I know Sis", I said.

I should have set the trap the night before. I knew there was something wild out there. I have just felt really run down and tired from this cold that just wont go away. I feel bad that my animals suffered the consequences of my laziness. Part of homesteading is pushing yourself even when ya just don't feel like it.

Poor fella no more than received his name before his life was cut short.

I wondered now that all the free rangers are gone if I should even set the trap now. BUT, I fear that my predator isn't something that just eats chickens. At first I thought perhaps I had a lazy little opossum now I think I am working with something bigger and faster. Maybe a fox or a coyote. I have Milo at the barn that I have to think about as well. So I think I am going to set my trap but before I do, I suppose I need to see if I can release what ever I catch at the game reserve.... I just don't think I have it in me to kill it... even if it did take out our precious Jeeves. At first I was out for blood but now... now that I have had time to think about it, how can I hate something for surviving? That's what life is about right, surviving? Aye maybe its the cold medicine talking... Either way it would be nice to know who is visiting us at night... I REALLY NEED A GAME CAM!

Anyways so we have had a rough week here but soon things will turn around. We will be embracing something new and exciting that will make up for this weeks losses.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I have recently received a few emails saying that they couldn't comment on my blog. I reset the settings. Hopefully the comment moderation issue has been fixed. Please let me know if there are further problems.
All the Best,

Monday, December 6, 2010

Jeeves is gone.

Hijeevey died today and we are all pretty sad.

Something has been picking off my free range boys.

Tomorrow I will set the traps.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Belvedere... Searching for that sweet Belvedere.

One of my most favorite parts of the day is that refreshing morning walk down to the barn. Hijeevey and the other free range boys excitedly run to greet me every morning. Watching them run to me ALWAYS makes me smile. There is something so special about a happy chicken running in your direction. Seriously, if I ever get a camera I will film a video, then you will see the gratification! Guaranteed to make you smile too!

This morning was no different... Ok, well, slightly different.....

As soon as I stepped with in their line of vision they ran towards me. Our adolescent Buff Marans rooster excitedly stopped in his tracks, and proudly spit and sputtered his first cock-a-doodle-do. Then he continued to proudly run towards me like a child delightfully seeking praise from his mother. Although, it didn't sound like much, (sounded more along the lines of a old rusty weedeater struggling to start), it just melted my heart to pieces! And o boy, was he ever proud of himself!

Its tradition around here not to name a rooster until he has his crow. Typically if he makes it to full fledged "manhood", that means he is going to be a keeper.

 So at that very given moment, it just came to me.... Our little Buff Marans rooster receive his name, Belvedere. Later I looked up the meaning.  Belvedere, meaning beautiful view.... and so it is... was and will be... 

Its weird here on the farm. One minute we are making decisions such as whose going in the stew pot and who we are are keeping. Then next minute we are praising the mile stones in the lives of our livestock as if they were a part of a human family... Which makes me wonder.... It makes me think that its quit perverse to categorize things into these little subpods of importance or lack of.... Society made the label; good, bad, important, unimportant....  Defining success and happiness simply by the way ones life is filed/categorized/prioritized. But by doing so we have lost all the connections to living.... its not all about the subject but its the threads that link it to another! Its not about point A to point B but all the gray that falls in between. How can we see the beautiful picture when the arrangements are neatly place in a labeled box? Where is the view in that? 

So I guess I am saying...
Dump out the groupings and subtitles...
Forget about what others are saying...
Forget everything that you were ever taught of success...
Take the Leap...
Do what brings a smile to your face...
                   And  ALWAYS keep your eyes peeled for Belvedere....

Monday, November 29, 2010

The girl who played among the trees

Sometimes our dreams are actually our reality in color...

Last night I had a dream. It has lingered with me like many of my more meaningful dreams do....

I saw a girl with long dark hair walking into a woods line with a dog. He was her companion. I know this because he walked willingly beside her. She never spoke or looked at him though. She didn't have to. It was like they were connected, internally linked.  Each confident stride was like they were walking towards their preordained destiny.   I wondered where they were going.

As the girls feet touched the leaf littered forest floor she morphed into a tall cedar tree. Her legs turned to ruff flaky bark, as the transformation continued up her body. The last part of her human self to change was her left hand. Simultaneously the dog morphed into a man. In the split second of their simultaneous transformation the man and girl were holding hands. He never looked at her but continued walking forward in his human form releasing her hand as the space between them widened with each step.

Then I woke up. I'm wasn't sure why the image of the dog man and the Cedar tree girl holding hands stuck with me. Having it do so makes me wonder of it's deeper meaning... Maybe it means I had an extra heaping of crazy?

The other day I had made a comment to my mom that I wanted to plant pine trees along the our property line. She suggested that I transplant the volunteer cedar trees out of their flower garden. Although I understood her suggestion as being a good start for my project, I don't really like Cedar trees. I like the wood after its been planed. I like the smell of the wood, but as far as the actual tree... its not much to look at if you ask me.

I wavered back and fourth on the idea of transplanting them. Even though I don't really like the looks of cedar,  I just hate to pass up free trees. "Surely I could fit them in somewhere" I thought.

As I was digging my holes for my new Cedars, I drifted back into images from my childhood. I use to play in the woods all the time as a child. My brother and I built our own little village out there. We moved fallen trees to create forts and collected stones to use as a work stations (for mud pies). But many times I found myself out in the woods alone with no one to play with me. I didn't like playing village with out any "villagers" so I would pretend that some of the trees were people. Specifically there was this super large tree. (I'm unsure of the variety).  I would pretend that he was an old wise man (like a chief). He was a good strong man that looked after the village. He kept the peace. Then there was this locust tree. He was tall with long spines protruding from his bark. He was always causing a ruckus in the village. The old wise tree didn't like the grumpy Locust....

One day while playing in the village I stumbled upon a small cedar tree.  This little seedling stuck out among the many because it had a strange orange fungus of some sort on its tiny trunk. I loved the little tree and pretended that it was a small child in the village.

Eventually the fungus spread. I dug my small tree up and showed it to my mom. She told me that the fungus would probably eventually kill the little tree. I don't remember if I shared with my mom how sad that news made me but I'm sure she knew as I was determined to save my friend.

I went out to my dads work shop and pealed the fungus off the little tree with his wood carving tool. I planted the little Cedar tree in the wind break row next to the house. I checked on the little tree often.

I drove by  my old childhood home the other day and the once little tree is now a huge towering Cedar!

When I saw my childhood Cedar I  thought "Wow, he has grown into a wise old man"!

So this morning as I planted this little guy,

I thought to myself... "Cedar trees are in my roots".  I laughed at the epiphany.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ice Poop and Thanks

The  frost is blanketing the ground with regularity these days. The leaves shimmer in the morning light with a million little diamonds sparkling across the ground. With each inhale I feel the crisp morning air cleanse my lungs. Even my face feels refreshed in the cold morning air. Its exhilarating. Here comes the days of my Schmidt insulated overalls and fleece lined jacket. I even dug out my deer skin gloves to keep my fingers toasty warm as I go about my morning chores.

 With the hustle and bustle of preparing for the Thanksgiving Feast, I have felt withdrawn and rushed during my chores. Briskly I would pat Milo on the head or shout  "good morning" to the girls as I would hurry about the feeding. I hate mornings like that. I like slowly strolling to the barn, gazing across the meadow, scanning for the wild flock of turkey that often eats breakfast in the field. I love listening to Hijeevey call out his morning crows as he sees me round the last corner of fencing. I like Milo weaving in and out of my feet as I attempt to walk without tripping over him. I like the time I spend there... just being in the moment.

This morning in order to get refocused, I threw on my bibs jacket and boots, reached from my hot cup of Joe and took me a little ole' stroll down to the barn. I sat on the kids wood swing and drank my morning cup of coffee.  Hijeevey belted out his morning hellos. Milo rubbed his body along my pants leg. Jasmine and Jessica quietly chomped their cud, as I listen to the melody of sounds that sang out to my heart, drawing me back into my little piece of heaven. Here I can relax. Here I can breath. Even on thanksgiving its easy to forget to be thankful... but here, looking out at the trees, the grass, the animals.... here, I am easily reminded to give thanks.

Finally my meditative state had to come to an end... I said my final "thanks", and started the chores. Tuesday I cleaned the chicken coop but due to the freezing cold rain I had put off the barn cleaning for brighter days, which was this morning.

I started with the girls stall. For two little goats, they use the bathroom a lot! I piled the manure on last years garden plot. I examined a pile of goat poops from a few months ago... It was the darkest richest dirt I have ever seen! If you don't understand my excitement, come on over. Ill teach you  how to become excited over poop and dirt! It's a lovely sight!

Next on the list, everyone needed watering.  Everyones buckets were frozen over. Even the rain barrel had a couple inches of ice. While busting out the water buckets I was forced to remember our first winter with livestock (last year). For some reason the absolute most valuable lessons of homesteading with chickens slipped my mind!

*Never, I repeat NEVER bust the top layer of ice out of poopy chicken water with your mouth slightly ajar.... 

Its a good thing I gave thanks before the chores. ;-)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Weekend wrap up; Thankfulness

I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend. I know I did!

Friday afternoon I took a trip to the doctors. I told the Doc that I had a sinus infection and what I needed from  him was an antibiotic. He asked me if there was anything else he could do to make me happy and I said "nope, that will be about it". He wrote me a prescription and because I made it so easy for him, he didn't even charge me!  LOL Yeah right... then I woke up...

Seriously I went to the doctors Friday because I was sick. I was pretty sure it was a sinus infection, because my headache and sneezing started while working in the wood shop on my spoon a few days ago. So I did tell the doctor that I had a sinus infection and what I needed from him was an antibiotic. I'm normally not such a big baby that I would run to the doctors over a sinus infection but my mom and I were going out on sat, and I really needed to feel better. I told my doctor this and he said ok but he needed to do a few test first. I said I figured as much.

 While waiting for my test to come back we chit chatted for a bit. My doctor loves to chit chat... yep he's a chit chatter. I love that about him. Anyways, I noticed that one of his fingers had been broken. I said "Hey doc your finger is all crooked like mine. 
He said "yeah I noticed you had a crooked finger". 
I was like... aaaa, Thanks???

 Anyways,  comes to find out he was a crazy navy man that like to hang out in bars, broke every finger on his right hand in a bar fight!!! I was like "ugh.... so did this inspire you to go to medical school? He was like," ugh, yeah sure right", and started laughing like he didn't go to medical school. 

I was like "Doc, you went to medical school right" and he just chuckled some more... My doctor is a jokester, o yes he is... I mean... hmmm (scratching my noggin) I think he was joking....

Anyways he gave me my antibiotic along with some steroids and off I went... I didn't take the steroids though... I don't want to look like the female version of Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator. I mean, I understand some women like that but that just isn't for me.

 Saturday was a fun day out with my mom. Mom wanted help doing her Christmas shopping. I was excited to go with her. It has been years since we have been out just the two of us. The funny thing about me and my mom Christmas shopping is that my mom likes to shop as much as I do. So you can imagine how much fun we had complaining about the crowds, the prices, the germs, etc. My mom hates to shop! And out of all the hellish choices of stores that she could have picked to shop at she chooses the worst! O yes, she made me go into Toys R Us! It was pure chaos in the store. Screaming kids, screaming mothers, catatonic fathers, and lots and lots of germs. Toys R Us just about did us in. After we got back in the car, I think my cloths were tattered and my hairs was a tangled mess (I'm completely exaggerating). 

Next we went to old navy. On the way to Old Navy, my mom said "Leigh, will you just pick out the Christmas gifts for me". I said, "okay". We get into Old Navy and I am looking around trying to knock people off my moms Christmas list when she says "Will you hurry up". I looked over at her questionably and thought "hmmm she should have clarified in the car that I was suppose to pick out the gifts but I also had to do such in a brisk manner. I shook my head and blankly stated "no, sorry that wasn't the deal". She knew I was kidding and  I hurried to wrap it up.

Finally we were on our way home. I was looking back over my receipt stating that my bill was a lot higher than I intended. After examination of my items I realized I picked up the wrong size  fleece sleeper suit for my baby nephew. Mom insisted that we turn around... but not before running over a trash can lid. We had to pull over in a car dealership to see if we were still dragging the lid. Lets just say it sounded like it. Anyways I jumped out of the car to examine the under carriage  and out of my peripheral vision I see a salesman headed my way.  I jumped back in the car and yelled out to my mom "gogogo, their coming"  and off we sped away. Just kidding... sort of. I don't like salesmen. If I were to have stayed there, I promise you I would have drove home in a Cadillac Escalade.... 

We finally made it back to Old Navy. When we pull into the parking lot we notice there were fire trucks and ambulances blocking the main part of the building... "UGH, just my luck, a stand off at Old Navy, now I cant return the sleeper". I then noticed that there weren't any police cars so it must be safe I thought. 
I exchanged the outfit and off we went... again.

By the time I returned home I felt like I had be beaten and the ran over by a bus. Night turned into morning and I have finally recovered. Next time mom and I go out... we will not be shopping!

Theres nothing like watching your chickens scratch.... unwinding from a busy day in the city. 

I don't think I could cope living in a world surrounded by asphalt. I would have to go to a petting zoo to see a face as cute as this...

There is nothing quite like eating a homegrown mater snack and counting your sweet little country blessings......

Weekend wrap up; Thankfulness

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Whats going on?

There are so many little things going on that I wanted to tell you all about. If I write an individual blog post on each of them it will take me until Spring to get you all caught up. So here is a little update....

Remember the green tomato experiment in the shop? Talking about  extending the harvesting season! We are eating garden tomatoes in mid November!

 Now I just have to figure out how to stagger the ripening. We are a little over ran with ripe tomatoes now.

 Does anyone want to come over for some BLT'S?

My next big experiment was to carve a Welsh Love Spoon. My pal Martijn is an amazing wood carver. He was as so kind to send me over some templates. I confess I used electrical tools on my spoon and Martijn uses carving knives and gouges. (but Martijn has mad skills). Anyways this was the outcome of my first Welsh Love Spoon...

The next update...

 Remember when my mom was going to teach me how to quilt but she couldn't because I didn't know how to use pair of scissors... or put pieces together? Well with no help from me, my mom finished her quilt!!!! I'm so proud of her. She worked her bum off! I didn't even last an hour working on this sucker. The entire quilt is hand pieced and hand quilted.  Isn't it beautiful!? Way to go Mom!

There are various things in planning mode here at Come By Chance Acres. Top priority is to get our tractor up and running. We should have turned the garden by now but being this close to the holidays buying new parts for the Tractor will be put off until after the first of the year. 

The next big project will be to extend the chicken coop. After the situation with Jeeves I realized that we really do need more space and a way to partition off an area for breeding pairs or in case of injury. So the addition is in the planning phase.

After we have the the Tractor Running and the Coop addition wrapped up I want to fence off the far end of the goat pasture and build a small lean too. Jasmine and Jessica will be ready to breed  in the spring. I had initially intended to just use someone else's buck but do to the fact that I am not willing to send my does off to someone else's farm... it looks like we will be getting the girls a husband. It may or may not be a permanent arrangement though. It all hangs in the balance of the neighbors.

We are also wanting to plant more trees. We have three acres that is situated behind four houses. I have been fairly lucky to have really great neighbors (Minus the Bleep neighbor), but I really enjoy privacy. I would rather be watching the birds in the trees than watch the neighbor kids go swimming. Nuff said.

I am hoping to have everything finished by April. As soon as the ground is dried out enough were are putting a gravel road in that will go all the way down to the barn. It will be a miracle if we have all this completed before planting season but I will just have to keep my fingers crossed.

If by some crazy chance that we get all these lovely jobs completed in a fairly brisk manner, Lee is wanting to build a large workshop over the hill. I am all for it! I really want to just get these other projects wrapped up asap so we can start on his shop. O and of course its not like I have any personal investment in Lee's shop. I mean its not like the extra space in the barn is going to be converted into a studio or anything... I mean that would be ridiculous! *Wink* Wink*

So there you have it. Our most recent successes and our future plans.  ;-)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My neighbor is a *BLEEP*

 Those of you who really know me, know that I am a very understanding open minded chill kind of person. I give EVERYBODY the benefit of the doubt and I am rarely bothered by what other people do. That's why I am struggling so much with this... I don't know how to put it nicely because well its just not nice. It bothers me not to be nice but.... well ok, Ill just say it.... I think my neighbor is a *BLEEP*.

Last year our neighbor hit hard times and had to sell some of their property. The people who bought the property got it at a steal. To give you an estimated idea of what they stole the property for... it was just three thousand dollars more than what I had in my savings account when I graduated from high school. Now it seems kind of petty to not like someone because they got a bargain. But you have to understand its not because they got a bargain. I don't like them because they profited off of my other neighbors misfortune. I have been in the situation before where people were circling around me all the while just to profit off of my misfortune. I tell you,  that is a horrible feeling.  So you see, this was the beginning of my disdain for our "new neighbor".

Now lets talk about the property in which the new neighbor stole bought. It was a really nice 1.45 acre lot with a large beautiful red barn situated in the center. The barn was old but very well cared for. There were many times that myself and my family would sit and watch the antics of the barn pigeons while they would fly in and out their beloved barn home. I cant explain it to you... It was like the big red barn wasn't just a building but it felt alive with a unique since of character and history. The barn pigeons made it just that much more special.

Sure enough the new "neighbors" "needed" to tear down the barn. To add a little salt to the wound, they sold the barn lumber for almost exactly what they paid for the property. Wow, I bet they were feeling really good about how lucky they were (at my old neighbors misfortune). I really wish my old neighbor would have thought about doing that himself. I would have understood if he would have done that.

Anyways, I would see the men over there working on ripping apart the beautiful barn and I would just have to shake my head. Yep I resented it. It annoyed me.

 One evening I heard a large crash and I knew that what was left of the structure had finally fell down. It was such a sad site to see. Aye but I bet the new neighbor was just thrilled.

It was a hot summer morning. I was down at the garden. The crickets and Katydids were in mid song. The sun was beating down on  my back as I was hunched over a row of beans. The scent of  billowing smoke tickled my nose as I sat up. I could see the sky darkening as the thick large black billows of smoke covered the blue sky. I stopped what I was doing and walked back towards the house. I stood in the front yard and watched them burn the big red barns remains. It was a sad sight to see... but what was to follow was just plain heartbreaking...

The pigeons frantically circled the the barn. They would fly in out and around the large black clouds of smoke.  They were panicking. I could hear them crying out. I knew that they must of had young in the barn This went on and on... finally I just had to walk away. It was painful to watch and there was nothing I could do. The next morning all that was left was charred remains of the old tin roof. The pigeons were still at it. They continued to fly around the pile of burnt ruble occasionally landing on the hot tin roof, and then flying back into the air.This went on for days and days while the fire smoldered. I could feel their suffering.

After all the rubble was removed, I would still see the pigeons flying around the site. It was as if they were lost or looking for something.  I knew that they were lost and they were looking for something.

The weeks to follow the pair of pigeons searched out new homes but still occasionally returning to the burn site. They would fly down to the abandon property that adjoins ours, which has an old abandon barn similar to their old one. Occasionally they would come down to my barn and check it out. I had really hoped that they would decide to say but our barn just wasn't the same. I understood that. They eventually moved on.

Once the new neighbors had their property for very little investment and removed the barn and its inhabitants, they started constructing their own home. In the place of the beautiful majestic red barn the new "neighbors", built one of the ugliest houses that I have ever seen. It is a plain ugly rectangle house. There isn't one thing charming about it. Seriously. When anyone is talking about it, its known as "the ugly house". The conversation goes something like this... "O yeah, the road is two houses down from the ugly house"... and then whoever your talking to gets this look on their face like a light just came on and goes, "O okay I know where you are talking about". See, I'm not the only one who thinks its ugly! You would think with all that "blood money", they would have built something spectacular! Ya know, to make it all worth it.

Well the story doesn't end there... O no it doesn't! In less than a year they have successfully gain from my old neighbors misfortune, tore down a historical structure that added charm to the neighborhood, killed baby pigeons and built an ugly house in the big red barns place, AND NOW they have listed the property for sale!!!!!!!!!!!

 I cant decide if I am glad to be rid of them or pissed that they came only long enough to take take take....


Monday, November 15, 2010

My Big Brother

Growing up there was this kid that could be a real pain in the butt, literally. Every Sunday we race each other to Sunday school class in order to beat the other to the special chair in the front of the classroom. He would beat me every single Sunday.

 I remember it just like it was yesterday. I ran to class, saw the unoccupied chair and thought "EUREKA, I'm going to win it today"! All my hopes and dreams about finally beating the kid were about to come true. I ran into the class as fast as I could, plopping down in that chair.

 "AWwwwwW", I screamed as I felt several pinches on the bum. I jumped up in agony while two boys were rolling around on the floor in laughter. Thumb tacks! He put thumb tacks in my chair! AT CHURCH! Just in case he is reading... "JESUS SAW THAT, I HOPE YOU KNOW"!

This kid was the same kid that cut a long golden lock of my hair when I was about four years old. I got a spanking for it but I never did rat him out.

He was also the mischievous little shit that could talk me into doing just about anything. Like when we were vacationing at the Canaan Valley Ski resort. He along with two of my cousins convinced me to jump over the railing and run across the roof connecting the two lodges... one by one, they each crossed it but guess who got caught by the security guard???

He was an ornery one, that one was! If he were reading this right now he would also remind me to tell you guys of the time he knocked my out of my chair breaking my collar bone. I have to say that was one of his sweeter moments though. I remember my mom holding me as I cried. My brother sat beside me almost in tears too saying, "Sissy I'm so sorry I didn't mean it, it was an accident".  He felt awful.

The same kid that put tacks in my chair, cut my hair and lead me astray was my very best friend growing up... My brother...

I remember the two of us jumping out of the neighbors hay loft into huge piles of loose hay.  By my third or fourth jump. I cracked the back of my head on a pulley that was sticking out on the way down. His face was the first thing I saw hovering over me when I finally opened my eyes.

When we were in high school, my big brother played match maker with me and one of his best buddies. It didn't take long before my brother saw the kids true colors. He told me the boy was up to no good. I knew he was right and heeded his advice to ditch him.  I know that it wasn't easy for him and it complicated his friendships for a while.

Yep, he was stinker of a kid but good big brother. When I was about 16, I went out one night with one of my girl friends. My big brother told my friend as we were leaving the house, "Be careful, you will have my little sister in that car, DRIVE SLOW". I thought about how upset he was going to be when we ended upside down on creek bank. My brother made it there before EMS arrived.

He was also the same kid that even though he was just two years older than me wouldn't allow me to watch rated R movies. Everyone I knew was talking about this graphic movie "Natural Born Killers". My tween curiosity really wanted to see it and it just so happened my big brother had it. I popped it in the VCR and pushed play about the time he walked in. "WO WO wo, you cant watch this sis, Maybe when you are older", he said as he pushed the eject button. Even though I really wanted to see it, I don't really recall arguing much about it. And like he promised a year or so later he let me watch it.... but I never made it to the end. I think I should have waited a little longer....

We moved around a lot as kids but he was always the steadfast friend. I knew that I always had one friend that would always be there that I could count on. We felt a responsibility towards one another. We looked out for one another. Although we were often partners in crime, my big bro never let me stray to far from good fun. And on the rare occasion that I did do something that crossed the line of kids being kids, it wasn't the disapproval of my parents, but the disappointment in my brothers eyes that would get to me every time.

I have the very best big brother! And for all the mean things that he did to me growing up, I've just about forgiven him...
 O but wait you didn't really think that I would just forget about the thumb tacks did you!?

"I'm really glad you liked your birthday pie"

Hmmm,  Am I licking the top of his birthday pie!?!?!?!?

Happy Birthday. I love ya bro!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Woodland comforts

I have been in a retreating mood lately. I cant put my finger on it but something has changed. I cant say its an internal struggle because inside there is very little fight. I just feel like my spirit is changing, growing, moving on to a different level. The only internal conflict with this is that I am unfamiliar to the growth. Growing is uncomfortable for me. It signifies change, which although is thrilling and exciting, its kind of scary too.

 Usually when I feel uncomfortable I retreat into the woods. Even as a little girl when I was worried upset or uncomfortable with life in general I would wander off into the woods. For hours I would sit and stare off into the distance.  I could have a billion thoughts running through my head and two minutes into mother natures embrace my head would be clear. The worries that would be screaming through my head would be drowned out by the sly sounds of a lizard moving underneath dry leaves. I could hear a tiny seed drop from a gum ball hanging in the gum tree, I could here the subtle chirps of a tiny bird or feel the eyes of a squirrel watching me in a tree.

Its the oddest feeling being disconnected from a world that has endless communication and then become in tune into something so subtle. I can feel mother nature luring me back in to her world. I am drawn gently near. Its a smooth magnetic force to her that whispers in my ear, "Come back to me child". I can feel it in my bones. And she is all I think about...

Things are changing... A new season is ahead.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My first bowl

I'm stumped... Bone dry... Not a thing in the world for me to write about....

 Aye but I did finish my first bowl!

I learned a lot from this experience. When I first started the bowl I really didnt anticipate it taking as long as it did for me to finish. Once I realized how long it was going to take to clean out the center, it sat untouched for days. Finally I realized it wasn't going to finish itself. I do realize that I made a fatal mistake in using the center of the wood (its most definitely going to crack) but probably the biggest lesson I learned here was patience.

Made from scratch scrap.

Before polish
After polish