Sunday, October 27, 2013

Who Dunnit?

There is something fowl afoot.  Eggs are being eaten.  I think the culprit might be the hen in the above photos.  She is a hen who isn't like the others.  She wanders alone.  She flies.  She follows me around the yard and has hen pecked our dog.  She is smart enough to realize that there is some yummy stuff inside that brown oblong shell.  Tonight, she will sleep in a separate pen and I will see if she is the one.  If not, she goes back in the hen-house and I will try another, then another.  I will get to the bottom of this.  I just hope it is only one and not a gang of hens gone bad.  

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Good Neighbor

 We found our neighbor fixing a road on our place.  A 20 acre landslide on a STEEP slope above the boundary between our ranches broke lose from the rest of the planet creating a Dr. Suess landscape with tilted trees and road sections not connecting. This would have caused a lot of environmental problems if it hadn't been addressed.  Our normal rainfall soaking into the crevasses and cracks would have kept the chunk of land sliding downhill to the ocean.... and forget about ever using the road again.  He removed the logs and stumps and boulders, then trenched several places so no uphill water would run onto the roadbed, then created ramps so mark could get the dozer onto the site.  As he left, he used the backhoe to pull the dead brush from above the road so the dozer could clear it off the roadway. He is always doing things like this and it isn't a minor thing.  Fuel for equipment is expensive, not even considering the value of  his time and years of expertise.   He is an octogenarian and a born and bred Humboldt native.  Driving equipment on these steep hills is second nature to him.  We appreciate him immensely. 
 Sometimes he even gets Mark involved.  Other-times, like last winter when a culvert plugged, he gets Eric.  But most of the time he goes about his good will quietly. Have I mentioned that we really appreciate all the road work he does.  I don't know how we would manage without him.  He's a worker.
Unlike this calf who can't even take the time to get up to nurse. Also a Humboldt born and bred native, but definitely not our Gil.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Morning Mourning

At 3 am the night is silent, the tree frogs and crickets presumably asleep.  The quiet so thick it feels like a heavy blanket wrapped tightly around me.  I lay awake thinking until sleep comes again and dawn awakens.

She always comes late.   Shadows tall and thick enshroud our home as a thicket of trees and a hill block the rising sun.   First a slight glow between the dense foliage than a slight golden glow upon the horizon line of the undulating prairie to the the south .  It is 9 am now and still our home is in shadow.  It makes it hard to get up early. 

Mark is usually first up and I hear the loud squeak of our 1930's art deco glass door that leads to the toilet.  Later a loud bang of the door  signals his departure.  The old door's spring doesn't work anymore and it always slams shut.  I sometimes wonder why it doesn't break under such force.

I hear the sound of running water and the whir of the coffee grinder.  Soon, the pungent, rich smell of french roast coffee fills the air.  I roll over under the blankets trying to rouse myself awake.  Coffee is coming.

Everyday he brings me coffee in bed.  I sip, I read, I write nonsense such as this in my journal.  It's our morning routine and routines help when you are struggling along an unknown trail.

I've been surprised at the sorrow that shows up unexpectedly since my mom's and uncle's death.  Here it comes one day and then, maybe, gone the next.  I don't know how to plan ahead, so I just trip along grabbing onto routines like a handy guardrail.  I stop a lot too, to pause and notice the new territory.  I keep notes, as I know I will sometime exit and will want to be able to help others who pass this way.

I realize I've never before understood grief.  Sure,  I've felt sad before over death.  I've cried, but it was more controllable.  This new place is not as easy to negotiate with and it makes me uneasy.   (Sort of like our government right now).  If I can get so tripped up by the death of my parents and uncle, what would happen if my children died or -heaven forbid- Mark?  I'd have to get my coffee, that's for sure.  Seriously though, death scares me now.  Not so much for the one who dies, but for me, left behind. 

I see Death's shadow everywhere.  It falls on you too.  For everything must die and when I see that shadow I feel a bit of the pain that this future parting might bring. Ouch.  Macabre.

I just hope this new awareness helps me love better.  Live better too.  Right now the jury is still out, but I have faith that the outcome will be positive, for He works all things out for good for those who believe. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


We had to head south to take care of my mom's estate last week, and Mark caught a virus.  A nasty virus that makes your nose run like a babbling brook and makes you cough until you almost pass out from lack of oxygen.  Fun times.  I avoided him like it was the black plague.  (Poor guy, no loving from me.)  Yes, I still got sick.  The only good thing about getting sick was I quit avoiding Mark and absence did make his kisses sweeter.

Mark has been drying apples during his convalescence.  A steady 'whir' from the dehydrator when the sun is shining (being off the grid and mostly solar powered) and our propane oven running at 170 degrees he does about 3 gallons of apples a day from the many apple trees' windfall.  Today he is also drying some on a slow burning fire. We will see how that goes, but so far the oven method has the perk of  filling our home with a delicious apple pie smell.  The production seems slow, but the four of us here graze constantly ;)  Johanna thinks they might be the perfect desert.

12 gallons apples = 2 gallon dried
 Shadow, our little 10 pound mutt, is convalescing too.  While going on a walk, before the sickness, she ran over a little rise and down the other side with our kid's dog, Shasta.  We heard a yelp and she came up the rise with a big flap of skin dangling and raw oozing skin underneath.  She looked dazed like she didn't really know what just happened.  We don't either.  The vet said it wasn't a bite, but looked like she got impaled or sliced on something. It was a very weird and costly accident as it was after hours and required a drive into Eureka an hour and a half away.  And multiple return drives and antibiotics and poor Shadow had to wear the cone of shame for 10 days. 

After she got home from surgery


Since June I have paid the bills, but not kept an account of expenses.  I've just been shoving the receipts in a file.   This file  has been hanging over my head and bouncing around in my thoughts each night as I try to go to sleep.  My sickness time is the perfect time to get a handle on this.  Only thing is that it always makes me grouchy.  Like a bear, grouchy.  So with the coughing comes some growling.  Sounds like fun, huh?

On a good note, the new calves are doing great and,while we are having to feed due to the shortage of grass this year, our cows are holding their weight too.  They live the good life.

definitely got milk

dinner roll out

We live a good life too.
fresh eggs from our hens

lettuce from the garden

sweet corn too

tasty heirloom tomatoes
our home and yard