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Winter Mornings on the Homestead

Winter Mornings on the Homestead

Winter Mornings

Winter mornings have taken on a new way, or more accurately, returned to old ways. I woke this morning, excited about the day ahead, and snuggled up to Steve. As of last night my freelance writing days are on long-term old…or maybe over. I’m still working on cutting back and refocusing, and I’m making a lot of progress. I’ve kept one publication, Walden Publishing, and let the rest go so that I have time to finish writing a book or two.

We lucked out with only four inches of fresh snow.  chirp  The call was familiar but I couldn’t place it and couldn’t find the bird. There are few deer on the game cameras now. It’s so cold at night the batteries are either slow or don’t work at all. They’re here according to the activity in the snow. The kale stems are nibbled down a little more each night. The deer stop short of eating the terminal bud. If they don’t come back to eat more before spring the plants might break dormancy and grow again. Fresh kale in the spring would be nice.  chirp 

Back in the house…

Back in the house, winter mornings are feeding the dogs and the sour dough, laundry to wash and hang by the wood stove, supper to plan… Speaking of supper, Steve is doing some of the cooking on a regular basis now. I love love love having a meal cooked for me, and he’s a great cook. He made chicken enchiladas and American chop suey (goulash) on Sunday. I’ll cook only twice this week and spend more uninterrupted time writing. We’ll have baked cranberry chicken tonight. Anyway, we’re talking about mornings. I brought in a bin of white pine, eastern hemlock, white cedar and balsam fir and went about making a wreath and three swags.

A blue jay napped in a hydrangea bush outside the sun porch, puffed up against the cold wind, barely flinching when the thin branch bounced. The feeders are full of suet, energy blocks, corn, sunflower and other assorted seeds.  chirp  I found the chirp when I brought fresh water to the ducks and chickens.  chirp  A robin huddled under an apple tree behind the hen house, pecking away at a frozen apple. It flew into another tree so I left quickly. Will it stay the winter? Time will tell. The photo is a maxed out zoom on my phone. I’ll take a different camera with me on a warmer day.

winter mornings, evergreen wreath, Christmas wreath

winter mornings, kale, deer
winter morning, terminal bud, kale, food plot

winter mornings

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Birds! That Day Went to the Birds

Birds! That Day Went to the Birds

That Day Went to the Birds!

Ray the raven has been making a pest of himself. He lands in the duck pen to have a drink of water from their pool. The ducks don’t like big birds but they’ve gotten used to Ray. Being an opportunist, if a duck laid an egg in the pen Ray made it his morning snack, and I missed that until I found egg shells a couple of times. And then he began to let himself into the coop to steal eggs. Beauty, one of my pound and a half Silkie bantam hens, met him on the ramp to the bird door and nailed him. I had a good laugh over that incident, Ray learned a lesson, and I didn’t see him for over a week.

Birds. Most days I love the roosters. Other days I want to whack their heads off and have chicken for supper.Click To Tweet

Steve forgot a few eggs in the high tunnel when he tended to Sweetie and her three chicks, and he left them on the back porch so they wouldn’t be mixed in with the good eggs. Ray stole one of the eggs, and he got away with it.

Bright and Early

Yesterday morning, bright and early, deep in thought while writing, a noise caught my attention. A little big of banging and scrappling was blamed on a red squirrel. I half-listened for the snap of the live trap. It wasn’t until I got up for more coffee that I knew it was Ray the jerk. I scared him away but he got the egg and flew off into the trees across the road. Ray, one. Robin, zero.

I filled my coffee and scanned the backyard for bears. They’re being pests right now. Unlike Ray, I can’t let bears get away with anything. No bears, but the roosters were fighting. I went out to break them up.

birds, ducks, loose ducks, electro netNext cup of coffee, scanned the yard, and half of the ducks were loose. I went out to put them back and found Romeo, the lighter colored and older of the two roosters, tangled in the electro net fence (it isn’t plugged in) and soaking wet. He managed to get tangled at the pool, probably while fighting with Bud, the younger rooster, and was trapped standing up in the water. I freed Romeo and put him in the coop to dry off. That was a mistake. The thumping and bumping and screeching started instantly. It seems like a soaking wet two pound rooster that just got his ass kicked by a swimming pool would want to slink off, dry out and regain some dignity…but he didn’t. He’s the aggressor in this war. I hopped the electro net and charged in like a boss thinking they’d stop fighting…but they didn’t.

birds, buff silkie, roosterI nudged Romeo away from Bud, pushing him a few feet back. I thought I was separating them but really I was giving him a running start for his next attack. He nailed Bud each time. On the fifth separation I gave him a lift five feet backward. He did the stop, drop and roll thing, and went right back after Bud. He did it the sixth time, too. “Dammit, birds, knock it off.” I picked him up off Bud and took him outside, depositing him in the tall grass on the other side of the fence. “Cool it, would you?”

Juvenile Ravens

birds, juvenile ravenHave you ever heard the squawking of young ravens? It sounds like something’s being tortured. Two adult ravens and three fledglings landed in the tallest trees around the coop. I don’t know if it was Ray, he’s been alone most of the time. Probably it was, and he probably brought his brats offspring over to teach them how to steal eggs. And. I. Wasn’t. Having. It. I’ll not be outsmarted by birds without putting up a good fight.

I grabbed rocks from the garden and lobbed them at the crows. I throw like a three year old so it didn’t do me much good, but they did fly away. Ugh! Birds!

Roosters Can Be Jerks

silkie, rooster, bantam, birds, chicken Later, I heard an odd noise coming from the behind the house. “Seriously? You guys are assholes.” I went out to untangle Romeo and Bud as they fought with the fence between them. Bud freed himself as I got there but Romeo was hopelessly tangled. I threatened him when the thunder started. “If there’s a single bolt of lightening I’m going to the house and you are on. your. own.” I untangled him from the twisted mess as the rain started, and marched his feathered little ass to the high tunnel. “You’re here for the night.” He went to work catching grasshoppers.

This morning Romeo is roaming the garden with Beauty and Tizzy, scratching up weeds, and eating bugs. Bud is in the doorway, on his side of the fence where he belongs, and crowing up a storm. The ravens were here earlier but  they squawked and made their presence know so I was able to drive them off as they landed in the ash trees across from the back porch. “NO EGGS FOR YOU,” I wanted to yell. It’s a good thing we don’t have neighbors.

THIS day is not going to the birds. Or maybe it is. There are four ducks loose already. birds