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Just a touch…

Just a little bit of Christmas on the house to let everyone in the neighborhood know that, after three years of neglect, somebody cares about this place now.

SONY DSC

SONY DSCMerry Christmas, neighbors!

Critters, part 2

A wee kitten under the house meowed piteously all day.

Before sunrise, I heard its tiny cry.

In the late morning, it was mewing again.

And as the sun began to set, its itty bitty voice was raised in despair.

At first I thought that perhaps the Mama Kitty had gone off to hunt, and baby was just hungry and missing her.  But the longer it went on the more I began to wonder if Mama Kitty was coming back.  By evening, I began to speculate that the rest of the family had moved on, and this little one was left behind.

As much as I don’t want a bunch of feral cats around reproducing, this peewee tugged at my heart strings.

But how was I to rescue it?  It’s under the house — directly under the bathroom, from the sound of it.  I went outside to investigate where the hole had once been.  The hubs had blocked it up (to prevent cats and other animals from getting underneath), and while I could pry the metal siding loose, I’m sure I frightened the kitten by doing so.  When I opened it up, I didn’t have a very good view of the underside of the house, and I couldn’t see the wee one anywhere.  I was also unable to leave it open enough to provide food for the kitten while also keeping other animals out.

I went to the other side of the house where there were two other holes that have also been shut.  Only one seemed likely.  I just slightly pulled away the items blocking the opening, and next to it I placed a milk crate that inside it had a jar lid, in which I had put a little cat food.  I’m hoping the milk crate will keep other critters out and will protect the food for its intended recipient.

SONY DSCFor a while, the kitten quit crying, and I was hopeful that it found the sustenance I left for it.  But less than an hour later, I heard it again, so I’m not sure.

I guess I’ll check in the morning to see.

Critters

It’s chilly outside, and most days, I want to be in my nice warm house.

Apparently, critters feel much the same.

There is a family of feral cats living under the house.  Since our current (temporary) house is basically a double-wide trailer, it wasn’t too hard for them to get under there.  But when the dogs started finding a way to sneak under the house too in order to investigate (terrorize) them, we had to get that hole blocked off.  That’s accomplished, but the cats are still under there.  The dogs somehow can smell them through the floor registers.  Sometimes they will hover over the vents, sniffing and sniffing.  My hope is that in the spring, I can catch the cats and get them fixed at the humane society, and then release them again.  They’re handy to kill mice and moles.  I just don’t want them reproducing.  (This particular Mama cat is on her second litter since we moved here in July)

Speaking of mice, one little guy has snuck into the house.  I’ve seen him three times now — twice on the kitchen counter and once in the living room.  This morning both dogs and the cat chased the mouse all over the place.  I suspect his days are numbered.  I hope so.

The rabbits are cozy in the barn with lots of straw in which to burrow.  The young ones, except for Brownie, have been dispatched and are now in the freezer.  One or two more does will follow.  Not all of our does are reproducing, and we need them to earn their keep.  Besides, we have two black ones and two blond ones, and they are tough to tell apart, especially now that they all share the same large pen instead of each one in her own small cage.  We’d be better able to keep track of them if we had one black, one blond, and one brown.

In the evenings, the dogs, the cat, and I cozy up together in the living room.  The dogs lie on their mats and Nova sleeps in my lap while I watch TV or read a book.  When the hubs isn’t busy, he joins us.

It’s sweet.

But I hope they get that mouse soon.

Decorating for Christmas

I’ve been trying to put up Christmas decorations. I don’t even know where to begin. After living thirteen years in the same house, I had a routine and a system. Stockings hung from the stairs, Nativities went on the sideboard, and a tiny Christmas village made from a hodgepodge of ornaments went in the bathroom.

Now, with a new house and a new kitten who gets into everything, I don’t know where to put decorations. Stockings can’t hang on the stairs because there are no stairs. The sideboard is now occupied with cookbooks, and the bathroom has no extra shelf space. The small stained glass suncatchers can’t go on the window because Nova will attack them. We haven’t made a definite decision about getting a tree, but I don’t know where we’d put it. Heck, with our cat’s penchant for chewing and tearing paper, I’m not even sure where to put the presents!

There are a few ornaments hanging from the light fixture above the dining table. A couple of Nativities are in the living room, along with some tiny artificial trees. I put a small Santa welcome sign on the back door (where everyone enters) and the “Merry ChristMoose” sign from my mother-in-law is on the back porch as well. This summer, when we were clearing the woods of invasive wild grapevine, I made a few wreaths, and one of those is now wrapped with lights. Stephan promised to figure out how to hang it on the front of the house. Once it’s hung, I’ll add a big red bow that I bought from Big Lots weeks ago.

I’d really like to go all out with decorations at this place. Not just for Christmas, but in the coming spring and next fall as well. I’m not sure why; I think it’s because this property has been neglected for so long, and the evidence of that is everywhere – from the muddy, rutted driveway to the barn that needs paint to the utter lack flowers out here. I want to show that this is our place and we love it. We care enough about it to show it off to people.

Maybe not this year. We’re doing what we can, but it will take me a while to get into a Christmas rhythm of knowing where decorations go and how to put lights on the house. Maybe in a year or two, Dove’s Crossing will look more like the Christmas wonderland that I imagine.

It’s only November

It’s only November, but I’m thinking of spring.

We need to gravel the driveway. With each rain or melting snowfall, the drive becomes more and more two muddy ruts.

I hope to plant at least two fruit trees in the spring. Cherry and pear are at the top of the list. I need to find a good nursery.

Already, I’m eager for seed catalogs to arrive. To be honest, we usually get our seeds from Rural King or other local retailers. But I like to browse to see what I might like. I already have a list going, and it includes lettuce, cabbage, peas, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, three kinds of peppers, sweet potatoes, red potatoes, carrots, beets, tomatoes, yellow squash, and zucchini. There were onions and pumpkin seeds in our compost, so perhaps we won’t need to plant either of those. I’d also like to plant basil and cilantro, and maybe some chives.

My mom has promised me strawberry plants, and my husband has promised me a strawberry patch, so that’s on the list of things to do as well.

This place could benefit from some flowers. I want to focus on plants native to this area, and I need to figure out where to get what I want. Coneflowers, Back-eyed Susans, Sunflowers, and Butterfly Weed for the open areas, and maybe Columbine, Bloodroot, Irises,and Larkspur for the wooded areas.

Before the summer is too far gone, I’ll need to get out my canning and freezing supplies to make sure they are in good condition and that I have plenty of what I’ll need. I’m also considering buying a food dehydrator. (Won’t dried cherries be nice?)

We’d like to install a composting outhouse and perhaps an outdoor shower for all our summer activities, and I’d like to get a volleyball net up.

So how will I fill my winter while waiting for spring?  Researching and reading about fruit trees, gardening, and raising chickens.

It Begins to Feel Like a Farm

Today, I mucked out the stables.

Okay, not exactly.  But I did clean out the rabbit colony (a job that was long overdue.)  This involves going in amongst the rabbits with a snow shovel, scooping out all the straw and rabbit droppings, and heaving it into a huge wheelbarrow.  Once it was clean, I put down fresh, clean straw — nearly two bales — for the rabbits to burrow in and rest upon.  Now that it’s getting colder out, I want to make sure they have enough bedding to help keep them warm this winter.

After that was done, I carted the old bedding out to where the garden will be.  Rabbit droppings are supposed to be really good for a garden, and the manure isn’t hot like horse or cow manure, so you don’t have to let it sit for a year.  You can put it right on your garden.

Of the new rabbit babies, we are keeping one.  We aren’t sure of its gender yet, but we decided we could use either a buck or a doe.  We don’t know the age of our breeding buck, and our does are hit and miss with breeding, so we want to replenish our stock.  The young keeper, named Brownie because s/he was the only brown rabbit in a litter full of blond ones, is now living with the does in the colony.  If we determine Brownie is a doe, that’s where she’ll stay.  If we find that Brownie is a buck, we’ll set up a cage for him.

Brownie’s litter mates are together in a cage, awaiting their their fate.  They are still well taken care of, with plenty of food and fresh water.  But they will not last much longer.  It is time to get them into the freezer.  I need / want to learn how to tan the hides, too.  I have found an article online about how to do it, so I’d like to try that sometime.  I just don’t know if this fall is the time.

We may need to say goodbye to a couple of our older does, as well.  There are a couple that we’ve bred more than once with no luck.  One of them is on her last chance right now; if she doesn’t kindle in the next month (she is due in a week or so), off to the butcher block she goes.

Once we get chickens in the spring and get the garden plowed, Dove’s Crossing will feel even more like a farm than it does now.

Hiccups

Remember our plan to build a cute little cottage?  Well, the building commissioner informed us that we are allowed only one residence and two outbuildings on our property.  So in order to build a little cottage, we must apply for a variance.  That involves seven copies of this and seven copies of that, and documents and notices sent by certified mail to each adjacent property owner, plus an application to the zoning board and a notice in the newspaper.  And if we’re approved, we must begin construction within just a couple of months, which means that we’d have to have the money saved before we even start the process.

In the meantime, we’ve got to get a septic line at our old house replaced so that the offer we’ve accepted can go through.  And at the new place, a water line must be run from the house to the shop so that the Ice Man has the water to make the ice.  Plus we probably need to get a reverse osmosis machine because the well water is so hard and rusty that it isn’t making clear carving blocks.

The pipe with which to extend the chimney just arrived, and we hope to get that in place soon so we can begin heating with wood more than with propane.

It also would be really good if we could figure out how to keep the rabbits’ water warm this winter so we don’t have to go out two or three times a day to switch out frozen water bottles.

Hiccups?  Nay, call them adventures!

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