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Bird Blood

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Scritch, scratch, flutter.

A bird in the chimney. We’ll have to get the nest out before we start lighting fires this fall.

The dogs and the cat sniff and investigate.

Flutter, scritch-scratch.

No, a bird in the actual wood stove. Hm. Structured as metal cylinder with a window of old mica, the stove is such that we can’t see inside, but we know the bird is there. Its wings whisper against the metal and its feet and beak scrape against the sides.

“Should I open it and take a look?”

“Only if you want a bird in the house instead of in the stove.”

Unlatch, creak, the door opens. The dogs are on alert, and the cat springs. It is in her mouth in an instant.

But because she is a cat, she is less interested in a quick kill than in the thrill of the catch, and she lets the injured avian go. We don’t know its fate. Had she dealt it a bite from which it could not recover? Is it dying somewhere under the furniture?

A few hours later, I hear fluttering again, and I think perhaps it is outside the kitchen window, until my eyes are drawn upward and I see the bird sitting on top of a large kettle on the shelf above my head. The cat also hears and sees and is on the prowl again. The bird flits down lower, a disastrous mistake. The cat pounces and has it in her mouth again, and this time the bird does not recover. After she plays her deadly game a while, we take her toy away, noticing that rigor has begun to set in. The bird goes in the trash can, and the cat licks her paws and blinks in a self-satisfied way.

Only later do I notice the bird blood on my floor. I’ll have to mop that up. Until I get the chance, it is a reminder of kitty’s first bird.

The Swirl

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At 9pm, my eyes get sandy and my energy drops.  Time for bed.  I tuck myself under the covers and drift to sleep.

At 2am, my bladder wakes me and I pad off to the bathroom.  When I return to bed, I snuggle back in, thinking that sleep will return to me.

Instead, a hurricane of thoughts fills my head.  Lessons I need to plan, copies I need to make, a quiz I need to alter.  The research paper I need to write for the class I’m taking.  And when will I get it done with house guests two weeks in a row and a mini-vacation planned after that?  And the refrigerator needs to be cleaned, and I forgot to buy flea prevention for the dogs.  There’s a log cabin show at the state fairgrounds this weekend.  Where will I buy the fruit trees I want to plan and when should I plant them and where?  Do I really want the strawberries where I had originally planned them?  If we buy a tractor, will there be enough money left to purchase the supplies to build an outhouse this summer?

I roll over, hoping a change in position will help.  The cat shifts her weight on my legs, wondering why I’m disturbing her sleep.

I remember I didn’t put away the laundry yet, or vacuum the living room rug.  I wonder if bleaching the well is the best way to get rid of the sulfur smell in the water.

The cat box needs to be cleaned.

I ask God to clear my mind so I can get back to sleep.

Will the research project I thought of for my eighth graders be too hard?  Is it okay if it’s hard because they need a challenge?  Why haven’t we heard back from the meat processor about the deer Stephan took there a few weeks ago after he hit it with his car?

Flip the pillow to the cool side.  Look at the clock.  Thirty minutes have passed.  Forty-five.

Everything I just thought about runs through my head again, this time in a different order.  Trees, tractor, strawberries, outhouse, research, guests, fridge, vacuum, lessons, laundry.

I try to release it all, but mostly it continues to run in the mental hamster wheel.

My eyes droop again, and I hope this time it will be for good.

Soon, it will be time to get up.



The whole family loves our kitten, Nova.  She and Gracie play together often.

She loves to sit on our laps.  She nuzzles my face and likes to cuddle.  Sometimes she will butt me with her head in order to get chin rubs or head scratches.  Recently, she even stood on her hind legs and hugged my leg.

SONY DSCNova is curious and friendly.  We feel lucky to have her.

Critters: Part 3

The cats seem finally to be out from under the house.  The mouse had been MIA, so we speculated that it decided there were far too many predators in our home for this to be his home as well.

Only, a few days ago, the cat and both dogs seemed really interested in this spot behind the sideboard in the dining area.  The dogs would go over an sniff and look around.  The cat would crawl underneath to investigate.  I never saw anything, and Stephan said he even moved the furniture out and saw nothing.

Christmas morning, I got up, let the dogs out, fed all the animals, and puttered around a bit.  Finally, I went to get dressed.  Stephan walked out into the kitchen and yelled, “Karen!  You have to come see this!”

It was a dead mouse, right in the middle of the floor.

It looked like it had been dead a couple of days.

“I can’t believe you didn’t see this when you got up,” he said to me.  I insisted it wasn’t there earlier. I surely would have noticed it.

So I think the pets finally caught it, and then saved it, hidden, behind the sideboard, until Christmas morning when they could give us a gift.

Well, can you prove they didn’t?


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.


SONY DSCYesterday, Gryffon had surgery to remove a mass from his elbow.  The vet’s office stitched it up and wrapped it.  They instructed us that Gryffon was not to chew or bite it, and the bandage should stay on for ten days.

In one evening, we re-wrapped his elbow four times.  We did it four more times this morning.

Stephan called the vet and told them the problem.  They said to come in and they’d rewrap it and put a cone on the dog.


When that was done, the clerk told Stephan it would be $9, which no one had told him over the phone.  “Why wasn’t that included in the original surgery charge?” he asked.  According to the office, “Not all dogs chew at the bandages.”

Really?  I’d like to meet those dogs.  Are they comatose?

Anyway, now Gryffon has no peripheral vision, and has a hard time getting around.  The bandage still comes off sometimes because he still scratches at it with his hind leg.

And he looks so pitiful.

SONY DSCPoor guy.  Nine more days to go.

Life on the Farm

July sunriseI guess technically, it’s not a farm yet.  We have no garden, and our only livestock is our rabbits.  (We may have chickens by spring.  We are at odds concerning goats.  One of us wants them.  One of us decidedly does not.  The one who does not is planning to keep it a secret from the other that there is a raffle for a goat at Rural King right now.  Who ever heard of a raffle for a goat, anyway?  That is totally something that would happen only at Rural King.)  Still, there’s a lot of work to do, and we’ve been pretty darn busy.  And now that school is back in session, it’s hard for me to get much done.  Even so, there is much happening, so I’ll tell you about it.

SONY DSCThe first thing you should know is that this little kitty thinks she needs a huge dog bed to nap in.  The dogs sniff her, give her a puzzled look, and then go lie on the bare floor somewhere.

Gryffon, Gracie, and Nova get along famously, by the way.  They play together all the time.  The dogs lick her until she is almost dripping; she meows at them, but doesn’t seem to mind it.  Other times, she jumps at them, attacking their legs, and then she runs away.  Sometimes this results in a cat and dog chase all through the house.  Once in a while, Gracie and Nova actually share the dog bed and almost cuddle together… except that Nova has most of the bed and Gracie is half on, half off the comfy spot. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, the rabbits now live in a colony instead of in separate cages.

SONY DSCHere’s one angle.  You can see three of the four does.  There is a nest box because we’re hoping one of them is pregnant, but she doesn’t seem to be pulling fur or anything, so I’m doubtful.  There is also a five-gallon bucket just in case one rabbit wants a cozy space.  (I’ve never seen any rabbit use it.)

SONY DSCIn this photo, you can see the poultry feeder that we use to feed the does.  You can see the fourth doe, as well as the cage we keep the buck in.  I wish the buck didn’t have to be in a cage, but if we left him with the does, they might fight with him.  And if they didn’t, we’d probably end up with a lot more baby bunnies than we wanted.  So far, this new method seems to be going okay.  The rabbits are inside our small barn.  The colony’s boundaries are made up of hardware cloth and scrap lumber on two sides, and the walls of the barn on the other two sides.  There is a concrete floor covered in long grass clippings from our yard.  (My amazing husband made the enclosure entirely with supplies we already had.  We spent no money on it at all!)  We keep the rabbits watered with water bottles attached to the hardware cloth, but also a one-gallon poultry waterer.

In July, Stephan and a friend put a new roof on the pole barn, in preparation for it becoming the new place of business.  Here you can see the old and new roof, plus a pretty sweet view of the front two acres of our place.

barn roof

Weekdays are now filled with school for me, but Saturdays are becoming busy with work on the property.  Today I did two loads of laundry (and hung them on the clothesline), cleaned the bathroom (I cleaned the rest of the house last night — in one easy evening after school!  That’s one great thing about a small house!), did some shopping (trips to Rural King are becoming a part of life), mowed the grass, worked on some Christmas gifts (made with things found right here on our property, but about which I cannot tell you because it is only August and the presents are still a secret), and made a very farm-like dinner of smoked pork chops, German potato salad, sauteed squash & onions, and bruschetta.  It was a feast, and we needed it because we worked hard today and we were hungry!

The Husband spent today at the old house removing peeling paint and touching up.  He came home and rescued me after I got the mower stuck in a ditch.  Later in the evening, he got the mower stuck in a different ditch.

This is a huge mower, by the way.  It doesn’t get stuck easily, but when it does, it’s very difficult to get out.

Here’s a photo of me in July, with The Beast.

mowingStill, despite our misadventures of getting it stuck, I’m thankful for it.  It was out of commission for about a week (it was leaking hydraulic fluid and would run but would not move forward) so our grass was getting really long.  At least it’s working again.  I mean, working except for being stuck in a ditch.

Country life.  I’m enjoying it.