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....