Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday morning...

I love mornings in general, and Sunday mornings in particular. The day lays before me like a blank canvas, ready for me to decorate it as I wish. This morning in Maine the day dawned cool and crisp. I took my camera outside with me as I did chores. The sun rising behind the trees on the ridge back lit flora and fauna alike.

"Adventure chicken" greets me on the deck. She is the only hen that routinely gets out of the large fenced area. She explores the herb garden, pokes around the front yard, and lays her eggs where she pleases. Sometimes I find them, mostly I don't. I can't be upset with her; rather I admire her free spirit.

Little Lambs Lawn Service, Inc. are let into the back yard when I am there to monitor their activities. They are curious and naughty. A frolic for them involves tipping over the barbecue grill, smashing the bird bath, eating all the poultry food, having a good scratch under the picnic table and breaking into the hen house. When I let them in the yard I keep the garden hose handy and steer them away from undesirable activities with a well aimed blast of water. I call this "hose herding." It is quite amusing. For me at least!
This lamb is called "Naughty Niner." The tag in his ear has a long ID number in, ending in "9." This guy is the most mischievous of the flock... routinely escaping from the pasture into the back yard and in general stirring up trouble as much as he can. He likes to dance on the deck. I find him enchanting.
The yellow squash are riotous. I harvest them by the basketful daily.
These are some of the roaster chicks we are raising. They are slated to go to "freezer camp" on Friday. They arrived here on June 1, two days old and the size of golf balls. 8 weeks later they are enormous and have bottomless appetites.
Belle the Muscovy duck and her ducklings are such fun to watch as they chase bugs, nibble weeds and splash in any handy water container. Look at the feet of the little one on the front right... now imagine the sound of all those little feet as they run past me in the yard. "Fwap-fwap-fwap." I always end up drowning the sound in laughter.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Yard art...

In general I am not a big fan of "yard art," but when friend Liz gave me the metal chickens here I had to grin. I made this little garden under my bird feeders, laying mulch where the spilled seeds land, adding the wonderful baths made by a creative local guy, and a bucket of flowers where the animals can't get to it. This little oasis of color attracts my eye, and the wild birds and chickens, too.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Memory triggers...

It is funny the things that trigger memories. This Portulaca blossom, (also known as "Moss Rose") reminds me of my sweet mother in law. Vernice Inez Parker Conner was beloved by me for many reasons; most of all because she created my precious husband. She loved to work in her yard and garden, and she told me once that Moss Rose were among her favorite of flowers. I plant some every year and take time to be grateful for her life when I see them bloom.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The new garden...

This is our new garden. Our friend Scott tilled it up for us early in the spring. It has been a challenge to keep the weeds at bay; since it is in a place that was formerly field, persistent plants are constantly trying set up housekeeping here. We laid in a LOT of mulch, and after a bit of a rocky start the plants are really doing well now.

Chris was determined to grow some peppers this year. We have not had any luck at all with them in the past. He was delighted to harvest this bad boy yesterday. We cooked it up and it tasted better than any we could have bought!

And tonight there were FOUR summer squash ready to pick.
I planted a row of Cosmo's in the garden to attract bees. And to make me smile. They are working on both counts!

Chris and I walk out each night to see the progress of the plants. It is a delicious pleasure!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Learning not to interfere...

I am 51 years old and still learning.

Mama duck hatched 10 ducklings. They are, I must say, probably the cutest of all baby animals.
Mama hatched them inside the chicken coop. During the day she takes the ducklings out in the yard where they nibble on grass seeds, splash in the water bowls and nap in the shade. At night she tries to take them back to the safety of the coop... away from owls and other predators. The ducklings have trouble with this concept.

Mama says something to them in duck lingo. The fuzzy babies all fall into line and follow her, until she reaches the ramp to the coop. There, mama duck goes up, and the babies stand beneath and holler.

Mama comes back down. She leads the babies around for a while, then heads back up the ramp. One or two follow, the rest? They stay on the ground and holler. Loudly.

Mama leaves the coop. The ducklings that are with her follow. It is maddening to watch.

I want to scoop the ducklings up in a net and toss them into the coop. I want to "HELP."

But the duck, with her thimble sized brain, has it all figured out. Over and over, patiently, she descends the ramp. She leads a few babies up. Repeat. I quit watching after a while. When I went out after dark mama duck was in the coop, hovering over her babies. They were all safely in the coop. No thanks to me.

I take this as a life lesson. Interfere less. Let life happen more.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Life is persistant...

The ducklings are growing at an astonishing rate. They like chopped lettuce from the garden and think scrambled eggs are just the ticket. Their mama is so good... if I get too close to the babies she hisses then stomps her feet like a two year old human having a mega tantrum. The ducklings are non-plussed by my presence.... they eat and eat and rest and then, eat. Sometimes they hop in the shallow water dish and have a splash. The entire scene is so cute I spend way too much time sitting there, transfixed by what my family calls "poultry TV."

Saturday, July 16, 2011


The first weekend in May we brought two Muscovy ducks home. I chose this breed because they are supposed to be excellent bug eaters and the females are said to be wonderful mothers. 34 days ago Belle, the duck pictured here, settled in on a nest of over 20 eggs. She lined the nest with downy feathers from her breast, and then sat there. And sat there. In heat and sun and dark she was there on that nest, her huge flat feet and heavy body delicately covering those porcelain look a like eggs. Once a day she would stand, carefully cover the nest, and leave the coop. Outside she would eat and drink her fill, and eliminate 24 hours worth of waste products. Then she'd head back in and sit some more. I have never seen such patience and dedication. (There are human parents who could take lessons!)

Yesterday her long days of waiting were rewarded. There are ducklings! They are tiny and fuzzy and impossibly cute. Belle is still on the nest, keeping her new charges warm and safe. I suspect there are still eggs hatching under her downy chest. I can hardly wait until she brings her fluffy family out to meet the world.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Garden tales...

We have two vegetable gardens this year... and they are doing beautifully. For supper we have the sweetest peas, the freshest salads. There are tiny peppers and tomatoes coming along, too. Soon there will be summer squash and zucchini and more. I love to just stand in the gardens, surveying the neat rows of food there for the picking. It is like viewing magic.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Meet Tripp. He is here visiting with his owner, my good friend, Kim. Tripp is 4.8 lbs. of loud. He rarely eats, has very loose morals about housebreaking, and is one of the cutest dogs I've ever seen. Those EARS. It looks like he got them on sale and bought extra. He could move in here in an instant. The chickens could kick his tiny butt... but he has no idea he is smaller than a morsel. He'd take on the under-bed monsters, no problem. As long as Kim was within reach to back him up.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Gifts that keep giving...

I have been wanting to raise turkeys for a while. On my March birthday my sweet daughter gave me a frozen turkey in a bag. It came with a twinkling grin. She promised to buy me turkey poults when the time was right.

In June, 4 turkey poults arrived. They were tiny and loud; much like baby chickens but with bigger eyes and a nosier, noisier nature.

Fast forward to now. The poults look like Emu's that got shrunk in the wash. And they are the most curious creatures! If I am out in the yard they are near me, watching what I do. If I sit a while one will end up sitting beside me, or on my leg. If we have supper at the picnic table some of the babies sit with us. We should not encourage this but they are so cute we can't help it. We slip them a snack or two.

In this photo two turkeys are sitting on a log with two baby chickens the same age. The turkeys are growing in leaps and they bring me great delight. They are, truly, gifts that keep on giving.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Translucent moments...

A friend of mine lost her only daughter, 19, in an auto accident. I can't get that family out of my mind. Many years ago I worked in a nursing home. I don't think I will ever forget the first deaths I experienced. What surprised me was that when a person died, the world kept on going. Time continued to pass, people maintained their schedule's and agenda's. I felt as if there should be something to mark the magnitude of the loss of life. Because the passing of one life affects the lives of so many others. I felt that the world should pause- or something- at the moment of the passing.

But the world doesn't work that way. So I have come up with my own method of commemorating treasured lives. I do it by trying my very best to enjoy the small moments... the fragile, translucent, floating seconds that fill up our days. Like shimmering soap bubbles they are here then gone-- gone in an instant, but celebrated while they were here.

This is the only way I know to have any hold at all on the treasures of life.