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Category Archives: country life

The Summer of the Mouse

This cat is the nicest, cuddliest, sweetest cat ever.

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But this summer, she’s been slacking off.

This summer, we have caught fourteen mice in our trap under the kitchen sink. Fourteen! What happened to our fierce hunter? Is this the same cat, who, just six months after we got her, joyfully deposited a dead mouse at my feet on Christmas morning? Is this the same cat who spent the following six months killing mice out in the field and bringing them to the back porch to win approval?

Perhaps we should cut back on her allotment of kibble. Maybe she’s gotten spoiled by evenings on my lap, head rubs, and belly scratches.

After all, just the other day when I was singing her a song, she actually put her paw on my mouth with a look that said, “Hush. Just be a pretty face.”

Perhaps she is spoiled rotten.

But just when I think she has turned from mighty hunter to worthless lap-cat, she kills another mouse, as if to prove to me that she’s worth it.

And the purring and cuddles are pretty nice, too.

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Bernadette Smart is the main character in the middle grade novel I’m writing. She has a vivid imagination that takes her on all sorts of adventures! Bernadette also has a cat. His name is Mr. Wiggles. Next month, I’ll share a story about Bernadette and Mr. Wiggles.

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The best day for it

If I had to get locked out of the house in February, this was the right day for it to happen. The sunshine makes the unseasonably warm 58 degrees feel just perfect. The birds are chirping happily, and just beyond the pasture where seven horses graze, the corn stubble simmers in the afternoon light. A perfectly blue sky is a canopy above me.

I admit, I am awfully hungry, and my back aches a bit from sitting in this wooden lawn swing for the last two hours. But all things considered, being locked out of the house hasn’t been nearly as bad as it could have been.

Still, we should have another key made so we can hide it outside.

Just a little patience…

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No one has ever accused me of being too patient.

Never in my life has anyone said, “You know, Karen, I think you might be the most patient person in the world.”

So the fact that, after two and half years of living in a double-wide trailer, there is still no visible evidence that we’re building a house.

Meanwhile, more shingles blow off the roof with every wind storm and I swear the floors are getting more uneven every month.

Still, there are definite benefits of taking it slowly.  We’ve been thinking a lot more about making the house off-grid, or at least using as much alternative energy as possible.  Solar, wind, wood, and propane would be our main sources of energy.  But that means researching types of solar panels (did you know there were different types?), different types of wind turbines, and even wood cookstoves.  We also need to think about what electricity-hogging appliances we’re willing to do without.  I have already learned that it would be a lot easier for me to give up the dishwasher than the microwave.  (Without a microwave, I’d have to plan ahead a lot better for thawing meat for dinner or for reheating leftovers for lunch.)  I’m totally cool with hanging our laundry on the line when it’s warm and sunny, but what about months like January and February?  Or those weeks when the perfect line-drying weather comes on Tuesday or Thursday when I’m working, and on the weekends the deluge comes?

It’s a different mindset for sure, but one we’re entertaining.

In the meantime, I just have to be a little more patient.  And hope the shingles stay on the roof.

Cause and Effect

Last Wednesday afternoon, one of our roosters attacked me.

Last Wednesday evening, we ate him for dinner.

Attacked! (?)

It isn’t uncommon for  me to see wildlife when I’m out on a run.  Ducks, hawks, killdeer, and of course squirrels and deer often cross my path or come near to my route.  So yesterday as I ran, I wasn’t terribly surprised to hear a rustling in the leaves behind me.  Deer, I surmised.  But how would I have startled the deer when I was already past them?  I turned to look. Three animals stared me in the face, and rather than fleeing from me, they hurtled toward me!

Goats!

I froze.  What does it mean when goats run toward you?  Was I being attacked?

I could just see the headline: “Runner Attacked by Goats Remains in Critical Condition.”

But when they reached me, they stopped.  Where had they come from?  A property three houses south of us has goats, but I was four or five houses north of our home.  It would be strange for them to come so far.  Unsure of what to do, I turned to go, but they followed me.  What now?  Were they friendly?

I scratched one on the head, then another.  Finally, I decided to walk to the closest house to ask where the goats belonged.  But as soon as I turned toward the home, my new little friends galloped back up the lane and behind the house.

Perhaps the goats were hoping for treats.  Maybe they were bringing me their Christmas greetings.  Perchance they just needed a little love.  Whatever the reason, I was surprised and delighted to meet three new four-legged friends.

The First Day

It’s the first day of gun season, and Husband’s alarm sounds at an early hour.  He is up and out the door quickly to drive to the next county to hunt on his dad’s property.

I sigh and roll out of bed, too.

In the distance, I hear a gun shot.

My running partner is out of town, and I’m not sure I want to brave the first cold weather of the season without her.  At the same time, I don’t want to be a wimp.

I pull on my running tights, my sweatshirt, my shoes, my gloves, and my ear warmers, and I hit the road.  The sunrise is at my right shoulder, and diamonds sparkle in the frosty grass.

I inhale the cold air and watch the breath clouds form in front of my face.  Up the road, past the fancy newer houses, toward the older farm homes.  I glance over toward the sun, and there he is.

A buck, just lying in someone’s yard.

Not dead, but very much alive.

Not hiding from a marksman’s eye.

Not poised, ready to spring away at the slightest sound.

Just lying on the ground, legs tucked under him, enjoying the scenery.

I slow down, and we watch each other as I jog past.  Then I stop, cross the road for a closer look, and still he lies there, his two small antlers pointing toward each other.

Is he injured? I wonder.  Why does my presence not spook him?  I see no signs of distress, no wounds.  He is bright-eyed and alert.

A sneaky little sucker, I decide.  If he’s in someone’s yard, he’s far less likely to be shot.  If he’s out of the woods, then… well, he may think he’s out of the woods.

It’s the only time I’ve witnessed the convergence of the literal and figurative meanings of an idiom.

Finally, he stands, but makes no move toward the trees.

Deer also seem to have marked hunting season on their calendars.

I leave the wily buck and continue my run.  Over the next few miles, I hear more gunshots.

Husband isn’t the only one scoping out dinner.

May it be a worthy contest between the hunter and the deer.

School’s Out!

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The weather’s hot, the grass is growing, and teachers around the city are beginning to relax.

Yesterday was my last day of school for the year.  Hooray!  I have approximately 10 weeks to sleep late, go to the bathroom any time I want/need (without waiting for passing periods), eat when I’m hungry (rather than only at 12 noon), and do those things I’ve been putting off.

So maybe you’ll see more blog posts from me.  Things have been happening on the homestead — animals born, others butchered, progress on the house-building, fruit ripening.  But I also have a lot to do this summer.  I agreed to develop an orientation program for new teachers at our school, and I need to write curriculum for the second year of my two-year honors class.  There are home chores — cleaning the chicken coop and the rabbit barn, putting a cover on the pool and taking down the fence, reorganizing the guest room closet.  I picked the first strawberries today, and there will be raspberries and blackberries ripening soon.  There are little green cherries and little green peaches on our trees.  Then the rest of the garden will start to be ready to harvest.

I want to write, knit, and draw up plans for a tree house / writing studio.

There is a lot of stuff to cram into 10 weeks.

I hope to make the most of the time.