posts tagged with 'life'

natural enemies?

This morning a fox got into the yard and attacked the hens. It wasn't even that early—just around breakfast time. I heard the commotion and ran outside; before I even yelled the fox saw me and took off, dropping the hen he was trying to carry away (Springdot the Speckled Sussex). My first instinct was to call for the dogs, who were upstairs with Leah settling in for a morning of office work. They didn't respond instantly, which is probably just as well: unlike Rascal in his prime, Scout and Blue aren't trained to chase away foxes and ignore chickens. The hens were already panicking, and adding two excitable puppies to the scene would probably have made things worse rather than better. Oh well, we're working on it. And they did get come out a little later, once all the hens were safely locked up, to check out the scene of the crime and get their first scent of fox. Next time, they'll be ready!

how are we so busy when we don't leave home?

Just like last Friday, we had an overwhelming online day today. This time I hosted three meetings! Besides that I spent a while working on recording a video. Suffice it to say that I spent more time looking at my own face today than I have any other day of my entire life. And videos isn't all we're doing! When the quarantine started Leah and I thought we had all the time in the world, so we ordered a dumpster; it's going to be picked up Monday so we have to finish filling it before then. The dumpster situation is emblematic of how life is going: how can it possibly have been in our driveway for two weeks already?! (Strangely, while weeks are speeding by each day seems to last a very long time. I don't know how that works.) All that is to say, I thought that being stuck at home would mean I would have time for all sorts of things that I don't usually manage. And that's not happening. Or maybe it is, actually—it's just that the extra time is for Zoom meetings and making videos. Oh well.

our accelerating weeks

Most Mondays mornings I'm completely exhausted, and today was no exceptions. That's because of the way our weekly schedule is structured. We start slow: our Mondays are generally pretty restful. I go in to work, and the boys get to hang out with their grandparents. Tuesday and Wednesday are our home days, where we can work on projects and do art, or go shopping or to the library. But then things start to ramp up. Thursdays and Fridays we do activities with our co-op, then the weekends are filled with activities, including running my Kids Church program and playing a lot of Pokemon. This week we added attending a concert on Friday morning, and I took all the boys out to Worcester on Saturday so that Harvey could play in a tournament. Yesterday Harvey and I went right from to church to another Pokemon event, where I was a judge, and then after that we had dinner at Leah's parents' house to celebrate her dad's birthday. All of those were good things. But the cumulative effect is a little rough.

The worst part is being so wiped out Sunday night into Monday means it's really hard to put together a good plan for the week ahead of time. I'd love to be able to have a moment to think about how we want to structure our time at home, what food I want to cook (and then what we need to shop for), and what kinds of fun projects we might want to get organized for. So while our weeks go fine, I don't feel like we're moving forward towards making things any easier for the next week.

At least there's one thing I know that I can do now to help... I'm going to bed!

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eggs and chickens

I've written about our hens' winter cessation of egg production before, more than once, and I almost did again about a month ago. But this year the drought didn't last long, and it's even better to write about the return of home-grown eggs. We've had six already, all from the young hens—which I know because they never managed to secure a place in the henhouse for themselves and so laid them on the ground in what was meant to be the chick house annex, where they're still sleeping. Or were, until I closed it off: I can't be crawling in there every day looking for eggs. We have nesting boxes for that! We'll see if being denied any other option will get them sorted out.

Sadly, we now have only three young hens: one of them disappeared just before the new year. There's been a very bold coyote around, one that we're calling a wolf, because it's so big. I noticed the hen was gone when I went to let them out in the morning—they had been putting themselves to bed—and though I looked all around I couldn't find any trace of her. I can't imagine anything could take a hen on snowy ground without leaving remains, but a 50-plus pound wolf (if I were to take a guess!) would probably have as good a shot as anything. We're sad—the missing hen even had a name, thanks to Harvey's friend Jack. Penguin, you'll be missed—and so will your eggs.

Surprise update, January 10: Penguin has been found! A neighbor from the next street over came to tell us that she had a hen that had been living in her side yard—she'd been feeding it for the past week or so. So we went and got her... not without a struggle, since she clearly thought she'd found a new home. Now she's back where she belongs, and we're going to keep her—and all the hens—locked up for a couple days until she gets settled in again.

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exhausted

Today we kicked off our new homeschool book group, sent Harvey and Mama off to Atlantic City for the weekend, and hosted our weekly community group. We had extra kids for all three meals: two for breakfast, seven for lunch (plus two extra adults) and seven for supper (and seven adults). I barely left our property, but I feel like I had a pretty full day nevertheless!

wasp season

Today was the beginning of fall, and more importantly it was my dad's birthday! We celebrated together at my parents' house with a cookout—but we didn't get to eat outside. The weather was perfect, but as soon as we put the first bit of food out it was discovered by wasps. Not a ton of wasps, but enough to make some of us nervous. So we went inside. And now that I think about it, the nervousness might have been a little bit justified, because we've had some intense wasp experiences over the past few weeks!

Most notable was our last outing of summer camp back at the end of August. With a good group of kids we rode to Fawn Lake and set out to walk around it. Less then halfway into the walk the leading kids moved off the main trail to explore a peninsula. I was near the back of the group, and as I neared the spot where the path reached the water I heard Sam say, "I think something is stinging me..." Next came the screams.

Sam had stepped on a wasps nest, and the wasps were streaming out and stinging everyone in sight. So we ran! (actually, the kids didn't run until I yelled at them to). Unfortunately, the peninsula we were on is kind of swampy and the path is vague, so in our hurry to get away we went the wrong way, which I realized when we came to a stream that the littler kids couldn't get over. I picking them up to basically throw them across I dropped my backpack and Zion's shoes. Then we ran some more. After a few hundred yards we stopped to catch our breath, and immediately noticed that the wasps were still with us: a few in the air around us and lots more on—or in a few cases under—our clothes. So we ran some more, with a few breaks to kill the wasps clinging to the kids. Half way around the pond from the nest we finally felt safe to stop.

With all that, we weren't absolutely destroyed. Nathan, who hates bugs the most, got the most stings—maybe six. Nobody else got more than two or three, and a few of us—me included—escaped without a single one. But everyone was a little shaken up. Needless to say, we didn't linger long at the pond; and one of the five-year-olds was heard to announce that he's never going hiking again (don't worry, he already has). To recover we all went out for ice cream.

It seems like there are more wasps around this year than usual. Lots of them are interested in our compost, which means they're also interested in our food when we eat on the back porch. Even with the stings they got at the pond the kids aren't particularly worried about wasps attacking them, but it's still disconcerting to have five or six of them buzzing around your head when you're trying to eat and, often, landing on your food. They might not want to sting us, but I bet they would if we bit one by accident. So we haven't been eating outside as much here, either.

But now that it's fall we'll be free of them soon. I'm ready!

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that stings!

So we have a playhouse, only it's not quite finished. That's why I haven't written about it yet. I will when it's done, which on current pace may be when the grandchildren come visiting (we're currently on year two of construction). That's not to say it isn't any use now; it's mostly done, and definitely inhabitable. In general, that is—right now it's not, because of wasps. I first noticed them yesterday, and knocked down their nest with a two-by-three and a great deal of care. This morning I saw that they were still hanging around the fallen nest, and knocked it down more, again emerging unscathed. Then in the afternoon I checked one more time and, seeing no signs of the wasps, went to move the two-by-three out. Which is when they came attacked! I only actually got one sting, but it hurt more than it would have otherwise because of how surprising it was! And the worst part is, now I don't know where they're hanging out, so any further construction work will need to be postponed until we can get them sorted. That's not what this project needs!

turkey talk

A new addition to the early-morning chatter of birds in our neighborhood is the low, musical chortle of a tom turkey. Despite how much it really does sound like "gobble-gobble-gobble" I actually wasn't sure what it was at first; then on a walk I saw the turkey in action to dispel all doubts. It's a low and musical sound at our house, but not so much up close. He's been calling from the same spot all week, which is basically under Harvey's friend Jack's bedroom window. This starts at maybe quarter to five. I haven't had a chance to ask Jack what he things about it. But for me, already awake and ten houses away, it's nature at its finest!

our day

Sometimes—often?—I let myself indulge my literary pretensions and imagine that anyone cares about what i write here. Which is too bad, because it stops me from writing all the boring day-to-day stuff that would actually be interesting tom me, the blog's actual audience, when I look back on it in a year or two. Not everything has to be groundbreaking or of wide general appeal. So, here's a short account of what we did today. In the morning the boys and I walked Rascal. Lijah was running and he fell, then spent the rest of the walk whining that he wanted to turn back... continuing when we were well past the half-way point in our loop. Eventually I asked Harvey to take the dog and offered to take Lijah back; he almost went for it, but in the practicality won out over his fighting pride and he just ran the short way home with his brothers.

Later in the morning Leah and tackled the bittersweet vines that are doing their best to take over our back porch. We cut most of them down, but they're all rooted under the ouch, and we didn't dare to venture in there to try and pull them out. So they'll be back before long. It look such better now, though, and now when we eat outside we won,t feel like we're about to be devoured by carnivorous plants.

Harvey and I had grilled cheese for lunch. The little boys were having so much fun at Nicholas's house that they didn't come home to eat.

After lunch we ran a neighborhood Pokemon tournament. Even after a round one loss to Lijah—necessary to preserve the peace—I ended up coming in first, but I ceded the grand prize deck box to the second place player, Harvey. There were also candy prizes for all contestants. It was cozy having six people playing cards at our kitchen table as the rain started to fall. Cozy and loud.

Harvey and Zion went over to Jack's house late afternoon, and wrangled a dinner invitation. Leah took Lijah to Whole Foods where he inevitably got chicken. I enjoyed a quiet solo supper of tomato sandwich—my absolute favorite this time of year. But I made sure everyone was home for dessert: brownie sundaes with home made fudge. Good stuff.

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who says we never do anything?!

Yesterday we at a picnic lunch and a picnic dinner, in two separate state parks. That wasn’t the plan for the day; I had thought to have a pretty quiet day at home, working and playing here like we’ve been doing a lot of the time lately. We did have an early-morning trip to to the grocery store planned, and I expected that that would be all the excitement I could handle. Only then friends invited us to join them for a walk at Great Brook Farm state park. On such a beautiful day, how could we resist?!

Harvey and Zion playing by a pond

out and enjoying life

It was indeed lovely; we played around the pond, looked at the livestock, and took a walk through the woods and fields. Then to top it all off we got ice cream—one small dish per family, to share. Hey, we're not made of money! Everyone was worn out and satisfied as we headed home.

But we didn't stay there for long. Harvey just got new swim goggles the other day, and he's been trying to arrange our first summertime trip to Walden Pond. I mentioned in passing that we might be able to head that way at dinner time—some day, when we hadn’t already spent nearly four hours exploring the great outdoors. But no, he was determined. So not much more than an hour after getting home from Great Brook we’d packed another meal and took to the road again. I was worried, with everyone but Harvey—me very much included—showing signs of dangerous tiredness, but the nearly empty beach was just what we needed and the boys ran, swam, and played for a solid hour and a half. Me, I lay on the beach and tried not to fall all the way asleep when they were in the water.

the three boys playing in the water

peaceful evening swim

Besides all the fresh air and exercise over the two excursions, we also got to see all kinds of amazing wildlife. At Great Brook the pond was full of tiny frogs, bullfrogs, and fish—including a catfish that came up to strike a cheerio one of the kids through in. We also saw lots of chipmunks and observed ants and dragonflies; Zion found a snakeskin to bring home. Walden Pond had less variety, but more excitement when a bald eagle flew across the pond to land in a pine tree down the beach. (“I didn’t see it!” Lijah tells me. He has a hard time seeing his shoes when I point them out to him, never mind a bird moving fast several hundred yards away.)

a frog in the pond

ribbet

It was all super fun. And exhausting. It took til this evening to finish washing all the tupperwares. But as we loaded the things into the car in the beautiful cool of the evening, I reflected that, some days at least, following the moment wherever it leads can be pretty nice too.

Harvey, Zion, and Havana walking in the woods

getting away from it all

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