A Miscellaneous Update

Though things are rather uncertain at the moment, Sili and Cashew are unaware and living their best life on the land. They are operating business as usual while i stress and fret over work and school and sometimes that’s very helpful.

Yes, that is a whole tin of blueberries smashed into the packing there.

i cancelled our subscription to the fedex food delivery service. The price for foods suddenly sky rocketed so that not only was it no longer cheaper than the foods i could get at the grocery in town…it was more expensive and you still had to pay shipping, which they raised by a dollar. Also, the food was always arriving damaged or missing. I had a theory that they raised the price so high after losing so much money refunding items that were damaged due to poor packing and fedex’s handling but i had no evidence to base this on, only a hunch. Once i began shopping in the grocery again i had such a wider variety to choose from and never had to worry about what state it would arrive in if it even arrived at all. However, by cancelling the service i had given up access to food at a level of ripeness that could not be achieved in the super market. This food was so ripe and so sweet it was near spoiling…at the perfect time for maximum flavor. However, financially it just wasn’t feasible to stay and i was upset that the service offered no explanation for nearly doubling the price of every vegetable and fruit on their site a few months ago. I think i was most upset that they were taking advantage now that people were dependent on them for groceries.

Last year when i built the chicken coop i put it inside a covered pen so i decided to leave the “run” part off of the design and just have it be open so they had access to the whole interior of the pen. I saved the wire fence panels thinking i would at some point construct a chicken tractor that could be pulled about the yard so they could graze various spots without worrying about hawk or coyote attacks. However, i never got around to doing it. One day i just decided that i was going to finish this idea today. I dragged an extension cord across the yard, fetched my drill and some 3 inch construction screws i had left over from the shed porch railing, and the panels. Within an hour i had constructed a chicken tractor. I had to drive the screws in 2/3 of the way so that the pointy end didnt stick out and i used shorter miscellaneous screws i had in the lid of my toolbox where i could but eventually i ran out so i just made the longer ones work. I put the chickens in it one by one and let them eat grass and hunt bugs for a couple hours before placing them back in the pen. Everything was about predator protection where i lived. I would give them as many food sources as i could but not at the expense of safety. in the chicken tractor, hawks couldn’t swoop down and carry them off.

I began noticing a dramatic reduction in eggs. Only one chicken was molting at the time so there should be more eggs than 1 or zero per day. However, there weren’t. Then one day i ducked into the coop to find Daisy, my favorite chicken, stooped over the nesting box with her rump up in the air. She had yolk dripping down her beak and she had completely eaten the top half of the egg shell. She was working her way down, eating every last bit of the evidence. I was horrified. The proper thing to do was eliminate the chicken from the group before she taught the others, but i couldn’t. If it had been buttercup, well she bites, she’s sneaky, and she never liked me anyway, but it wasn’t. It was Daisy, my favorite; the one that wants nothing more than to sit in your lap for hours and be petted. I couldn’t get rid of her and soon i had a whole flock of chickens eating their own eggs. I decided there was only one thing to do. I purchased 6 ceramic eggs at the feed store; 2 for each nesting box. I tried to collect the eggs multiple times a day and immediately after they had laid if possible. I left the ceramic eggs in place in the boxes. The chickens pecked at the ceramic eggs, which didn’t open and probably hurt their beaks. After 1 day they stopped pecking the eggs and i began getting a full batch daily once again. During this time though, i had the opportunity to examine the broken eggs they had pecked. The shells were very thin and brittle and the yolk was yellow instead of orange. I was alarmed by this. The only thing i could attribute it to was a recent change in their feed from scratch to pellets. They were wasting half of the scratch. They only liked select bits. They sorted through, ate their favorites, and left the rest. Also, i got 3 bags that were contaminated with beetles and moth larvae. They pretty much ate the corn and left the chickens droppings to consume in its place. It was a local store. I knew the whole batch was contaminated and refunding us all would put them under. I didnt try to bring it back. I used all 3 bags and then i switched to a different feed, one that wasnt made in house, so that if it was defective i could go after some corporate company for a refund. Well, apparently the vitamin content of the all natural pellets i switched them to was just not the same. They were getting less vitamin a, vitamin d, calcium, and who knows what else. The only thing i knew to do was put them back on the scratch that they waste so much of. It wasn’t what i wanted to do but within a week of switching back, their eggs were thick shelled again and the yolks were nearly orange.

I hate that they waste half of it but it keeps them so shiny and healthy and makes great eggs. Sometimes out of frustration i take the bits they dont want and have spread all over the floor to pick through and put it back in the dispenser, trying again to convince them its food.

Yet another thermometer dismounted from the post in the middle of a storm and i had to buy a replacement. This time i took a different approach and ordered a basic metal one from hobby lobby rather than a vintage decorative stucco or tile one. They were too fragile and hard to find. However, the metal one was bigger than i anticipated when i looked at the picture. They need to include a hand or a quarter for size reference in the advertisement photo. It was too wide for the porch post. I hung it on the house. However, the house is 4 degrees warmer than the porch post so i quickly realized that i had to subtract 4 from whatever temperature the new thermometer displayed for the sake of accuracy.

I spent Easter with my dear friend’s family. Her granddaughter made me this baby chicken from her clay set. I treasure it and it lives on my kitchen shelf where i can see it daily when im cooking or packing my lunch.

Her family dyed eggs and filled them with confetti. We hid them all over the property and the children found and deployed them. I do so love the look of mischievous optimism on a child’s face as they are deciding which relative needs more confetti in their hair. It was a rare break from the duties of life and the responsibilities that need tending to. It was a moment where it was okay to just be present and watch kids being kids.

One day i walked by my mulberry tree and noticed it was covered in little green knobs. I was just thrilled that it wasnt dead when it sprouted leaves after our winter-pocalypse, as people in the community are now calling it. i was in awe of this tree that it was going to put out fruit right now after clinging to life by a thread. Literally, if someone said a fire is on its way to your property, this is the one tree i’d turn the hose on, i’d save it before all the others if i only had one choice, because you just can’t beat a tree that not only survives the apocalypse but puts out fruit directly after. What a tree. I had planted it last year and this was the first time i had ever seen fruit on it. I was beyond excited.

The berries turned from green to pink, pink to red, and then finally black.

The first batch was barely enough to taste. Two chews and they were gone. However, it registered that they were good.

For about a week i got 20 to 30 berries a day, enough to have several mouthfuls and really taste them. I was enjoying the dickens out of the berries but it meant something more to me. It meant the tree had established itself. It was here to stay. It had rooted and it was producing. It felt like some giant monumental step in constructing my fruit orchard. Since i was not wealthy and had to dig the holes bu hand, most of my trees were very young. It would be a long time before they produced, but the mulberry tree was an adult. It was ready. I now had something besides sumac to harvest yearly.

I was worried what the freeze meant for the mimosa tree in front of the house, as it was regularly dormant at this time of year so there were still no signs of life. I was so relieved when it sprouted leaves and then fragrant pink fuzz balls. It survived being run over by a fedex truck and then winter-pocalypse. Though a flimsy thing, it sure was pretty. I was trimming it yearly to look more like a tree than a bush, as i tended to do with all my cedars. Its looking more and more like a tree. I recognize that once it gets older it will be a hazard to the house during wind storms but it is so pretty and the birds enjoy it so, im willing to deal with the consequences. I havent the heart to cut it down.

There were two little elm trees only a foot tall on the property that i discovered last fall. They were pretty lifeless after the winter storm and i feared i shouldnt have turned my friend down when she offered me a baby elm tree she had in a pot. Then all of a sudden both little sticks sprouted leaves near the base. They were coming back from the roots. Two leaves even emerged at the top of one of the tiny trees.

I tried desperately to water proof the window with a giant a/c hanging out of it. Each time it rained i would find new points of entry for the water and seal them up. Unfortunately, this just meant i was rerouting the path of the water to somewhere else, and i didnt get to figure out where that was until the next time it rained.

Eventually i put down the caulk and picked up the gorilla glue. I needed something liquid that would seep down in the crevice and then poof up to twice the size when it dried. Gorilla glue did the trick. It worked too well. Next time it rained i realized everything was so sealed up the water was being routed to one of the only unprotected areas left, and in great quantity.

We had a storm system come through that brought two straight days of steady to pouring rain without any breaks. The property flooded. The chicken pen flooded. Water was going under the house and coming out the other side, then flooding the dog run…they issued an emergency weather statement for the area asking everyone not to drive and to just stay in their houses because all the river banks were swollen, the creeks and streams had overflowed, and the low water crossings were impassible in a big way. My land was so water logged there wasn’t any getting the car out even if my life depended on it. I sunk ankle deep in the water and mud just trying to bring feed to the chickens or make it to our shed. The dogs had to potty directly into the flood water because there wasnt any break in the rain to hold it til. It was during this storm that i realized the new vulnerable area of the window unit water proofing configuration. Water began pouring in from the left top corner. I cut the tip off the container of caulk which i had left loaded in the gun in the house because there wasnt any sense in putting it back in the shed seeing as i would need it each and every time it rained. I plugged up the hole with caulk and prayed that it would dry in the middle of a downpour. The next time i looked at it the whole top of the unit was covered in water. I felt around and realized it was dripping from the foam that had been placed in between the top of the unit and the bottom of the window. The foam was so wet i didnt think there was much chance of getting the caulk to stick to it but i knew i would have to create a pretty extensive wall of caulk once the weather was better to cover the whole exposed strip of foam on the interior side. When the water began pouring in and dripping down the sides of the unit i decided it couldn’t wait. I adhered a massive amount of caulk to the foam as best i could and tried to keep it from peeling off. It wanted to stick to my finger much more than the wet foam and i was using a plastic bag to smooth it because i’d run out of gloves, so, it was more than a bit slap dash. However, it stopped the leaking for the time being. One of these days there wont be any more areas to plug and we can just enjoy the rain.

my hand towels have become permanent fixtures on the window sill.

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